Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 07, 2018 (SKNIS): Approximately 114 participants comprising of military and law enforcement officers are taking full advantage of the weapons training exercise, which is currently taking place at Baker’s Range in St. Kitts as part of Phase 1 for Exercise Tradewinds 2018.


Second Lt. Mark McCormick of the Florida National Guard gave a brief insight as to the purpose of training, which commenced on June 05 and will run until June 08.


“Right now, what we are doing for the four days is training the soldiers on three different weapons systems – the M16, M9 and the shotgun,” said the Lieutenant, adding that the training is very important for each partner nation and also for the soldiers individually. “It is teaching the soldiers how to operate these weapons systems so that when they do it in real life situations they will know how to shoot and how to maintain these weapons.”


He explained that there are many benefits to be derived from the training as the soldiers will become very familiar with the weapons systems and they will be able to operate the weapons down range.


Second Lt. McCormick stated that he is very pleased with the training thus far.


“…It has been going great. Yesterday we spent 90 thousand rounds just for these 114 soldiers. So, they are getting to shoot a lot of rounds, more than what they are used to back home and more than what I am used to back home. So, they are getting really familiar with these weapons systems,” he said. “They are doing great. We have had no incidents, everyone has been enjoying themselves, and everyone is getting great practice out of it.”


The exercise on Tuesday, June 05, saw soldiers using M16s while on Wednesday, June 06, they focused on shot guns and M9s.


Tradewinds 2018 is a Caribbean-focused training exercise designed to help participants better respond to natural disasters and land and maritime threats. This year’s Tradewinds has three phases. Phase I will include land operations and will take place in St. Kitts. Phase II will include maritime and land operations and will take place in and off the coast of the Bahamas.


About 1,700 personnel will take part in all phases of the exercise. Partner nations involved include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as military personnel from the United States, Canada, France, Mexico, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Participating regional organizations include the Regional Security System (RSS), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and CARICOM. US forces involved include: U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy Reserve, U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Army National Guard, and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.