Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 16, 2018 (SKNIS): The final planning for Tradewinds 2018 (TW18) began on Monday, April 16, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, as scores of representatives from security forces across the Caribbean region, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), Mexico, and France, work to build a more ready and capable regional force.
Exercise Tradewinds is a multi-national maritime interdiction, ground security and disaster response training held in the Caribbean annually. This year’s exercise will be held in St. Kitts and Nevis, which will host Phase I from June 04 to 12. This will be immediately followed by Phase II scheduled for the Bahamas from June 13 to 21.
The Final Planning Conference for TW18 activities will run for the next four-days as officials finalize participants from partner nations and confirm transportation arrangements, a communication plan, dive venues and related schedule, and other details. The officials are also expected to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by partner nations and organizations, and develop Status of Forces Agreements and Visiting Forces Agreements requirements in order for the visiting troops to train within the country.
This year’s exercise will feature representatives from 22 countries and 18 organizations. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Grace of the United States Marine Corps serves as the Exercise Branch Chief at the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) based in Miami, Florida. Tradewinds is USSOUTHCOM’s key exercise in the Caribbean region.
“Anytime you bring 22 different nations together, anytime you bring 22 separate individuals together, things are going to be conducted differently; people are going to have different political restraints; there’s going to be economic constraints; all of these different things are going to come into play,” Lt. Col. Grace stated.
As such, Tradewinds helps to indentify shortfalls and strengths within particular countries that can be tapped if there is a need to respond to a natural or man-made disaster or a security threat.
This was evident in 2017 following the devastation wreaked by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in several Caribbean islands. Countries such as the United States, France, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom all responded to assist relief efforts.
“Bringing those people together now (at Tradewinds) and finding out strengths and weaknesses and what assets are in an area that we can tap into, it allows us to focus our efforts more directly from wherever it may be. So if we need ships, we can ask the UK; if we need aircrafts we can ask Canada to provide those assets,” Lt. Col. Grace noted.
The U.S. Marine added that officials from USSOUTHCOM and the local organizing committee have been working very closely and he is confident that everything will come together to host a successful TW18.