Tradewinds 2015 Gets Underway In St. Kitts Staff Reporter Story Updated: June 02 nd 2015 at 1:38 pm Photo Credit – Defense Imagery and Distribution System: Leaders of participating partner nations for Tradewinds 2015 pose for a group photo May 31, 2015, after the opening ceremony at Camp Springfield (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Tynes)
Over 700 service personnel are in St. Kitts this week for the US-sponsored security training exercise Tradewinds 2015. “The aim of this exercise is to promote regional security and cooperation, with a focus on countering trans-national organized crime and also to exercise the participants on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations,” Commander of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace said Sunday (May 31, 2015), as he welcomed personnel from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands. Phase One of the exercise being hosted in St. Kitts, was officially launched in a brief ceremony at the Defense Force Headquarters at Camp Springfield on Sunday (May 31, 2015). Disaster management personnel are also included in the training which runs until June 9th. “We’re very excited for Tradewinds being here…especially the younger soldiers are very excited to have something new coming to our shores,” SKN Defence Force Lieutenant Gerald Connor said. The Lieutenant believes that the experience provides a significant opportunity for networking between personnel from the participating countries. “Especially when it comes down to the young soldiers who do not know the area…and the different islands very well, it also gives them an opportunity to find out from other persons from the different countries…what is the problem that they are experiencing in their country in terms of crime and disaster…so it also deals with..information sharing…so that is a very important part of knowing that if we’re ever called to be deployed to any one of our neighbours we will have a firsthand idea of what exactly to expect.” St. Kitts and Nevis holds an important strategic position in the region, the Lieutenant contends. “St. Kitts is strategically located within the middle of the chain of islands…which would expose us to the different threats coming from…international gangs coming in with drug smuggling…so we play a very important role in terms of counter…narcotics trafficking…and also in relation to disaster preparedness, because based upon our position we’d be able to conduct operations within the south and also within the north.” Phase Two of Tradewinds 2015 will be held from June 15th to 24th in Belize. That Phase will focus on the interoperability of land and maritime operations. Phase Three which is being hosted in Miami from June 14th to 16th, is a key Leader Seminar to discuss the other phases and the way ahead.