Partner nations train on advanced weapons during Exercise Tradewinds 2018
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – More than a hundred participants comprising military and law enforcement officers are taking full advantage of the weapons training exercise currently taking place at Baker’s Range in St. Kitts as part of Phase I for Exercise Tradewinds 2018.
2nd Lt. Mark McCormick of the Florida National Guard gave a brief insight as to the purpose of training, which commenced June 5 and will run until June 8. “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,” he said, 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.
McCormick stated that he is very pleased with the training thus far. “It has been going great,” he said. “Yesterday we spent 90,000 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. 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 June 5 saw soldiers using M16s and on June 6, they focused on shotguns and M9s.
Tradewinds 2018 is a Caribbean-focused training exercise designed to help participants better respond to natural disasters and land and maritime threats. 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 the U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy Reserve, the U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Army National Guard and the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.