Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 11, 2018 (SKNIS): A large scale raid featuring more than 300 multi-national troops was held on Monday (June 11) at the Fort Thomas Hotel as the men and women got an opportunity to showcase some of the skills and techniques they learnt during Phase 1 of Exercise Tradewinds 2018 (TW18).
The simulated operation featured a High Value Target (HVT) being held up in the building. A small group of soldiers eliminated the sentries outside and cordoned off the area before the main force moved in. An intense exchange of gunfire ensued and the troops used flash bang and smoke grenades in the operation to secure the building. They meticulously and efficiently executed room clearing exercises as they moved from floor to floor, neutralizing the opposing forces and searching for intelligence until the HVT was successfully captured and extracted.
“We train like we fight and that is basically why we do it like this,” said Shawn Llewellyn of the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) when asked about the use of the ammunition, which also included rocket propelled grenades (RPG). Llewellyn was in charge of the operation and paid keen attention to the performance of the security forces. If a team became bogged down, they drew more fire from the enemy combatants.
“You don’t want the first time you see it (RPG) to be in real life, so you want to train like you fight. That way, when it happens for real, you know what you are supposed to do as you revert back to your training,” he said.
While some may insist that the likelihood of such a large scale security threat is relatively low in the smaller Caribbean countries, Mr. Llewellyn emphasized that an important function of the annual Tradewinds exercises is to be prepared for any possible threat.
“The world is changing as we speak so you never know,” he stated. “It is always good to have that type of training and I don’t think there is any harm in it. You always want to prepare for something more drastic than you really will have to deal with so if they have to deal with something less drastic, they will be ready for it.”
The USSOUTHCOM official noted that Monday’s exercise was one of the largest land force activities to date. It is a sign of the organizers willingness to increase the scale and scope of activities to reflect the changing security and disaster scenarios that may actually unfold in the future.
“It (Tradewinds) gets more and more complicated every year and I believe it will continue to grow because it is very successful,” Llewellyn added.
Phase 1 of TW18 runs from June 04 to 12, 2018 in St. Kitts and Nevis. Phase 2 will be held in the Bahamas from June 13 to 21. USSOUTHCOM is the main sponsor of the annual exercise staged for security forces and law enforcement in the Caribbean region. The theme of TW18 is “Capacity Development through Integrated Training and Exercises to Confront National Security Challenges of the 21st Century.”