Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 17, 2018 (SKNIS): The annual staging of Exercise Tradewinds may seem like a foreign concept to the ordinary man or woman on the street of any given Caribbean country, but the benefits of the multinational maritime interdiction, ground security and disaster response training have the potential to touch every citizen and resident of the sub-region.

The most obvious example of this was the coordinated response that took place after Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc across the Caribbean in 2017, causing several deaths to livestock and humans, and billions of dollars in damages to crops and infrastructure.

United States Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Thomas Grace of the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) said the countries that contributed troops to the relief efforts were able to use the training they received during Tradewinds 2017, held in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, to work through issues and execute real world solutions.

“We actually received phone calls from representatives from different organizations down here, from Trinidad and the RSS (Regional Security System) saying ‘hey we’re doing what we did during Tradewinds right now,’ real world, moving supplies to Dominica, putting troops on a ship from Trinidad to go over to help out Dominica,” he stated.

The key is to be prepared for any eventualities and the message needs to resonate in every corner of society. A hotel in Barbados took that instruction seriously while hosting visiting troops for the security and disaster exercise there. It all unfolded after hotel management asked about the practical aspects of the yearly training and learnt that the High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR) scenario featured a response following a major earthquake and resulting tsunami had hit the island.

“The hotel manager said ‘well you know we have never worked through that drill before’ despite being in a tsunami zone and it highlighted a fact to them that they have a problem here, and they actually participated in the exercise last year and they identified shortfalls in their plans to protect guests at the hotel,” Lt. Col. Grace said.

Tradewinds 2018 (TW18) will be held from June 04 to 12 in St. Kitts and Nevis and June 13 to 21 in the Bahamas. Officials are currently meeting in St. Kitts from April 16 to 19 for the Final Planning Conference of the event.