PM Harris officially opens Tradewinds 2018 Phase I
PM Harris officially opens Tradewinds 2018 Phase I

PM’s feature address opens Exercise Tradewinds 2018

From the Office of the Prime Minister

The following is the original content of Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris’ feature address on the occasion of the opening ceremony for Exercise Travewinds 2018 at Warner Park Cricket Stadium delivered this morning:  

It is indeed a great honour and privilege as Prime Minister and Minister of National Security to welcome the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM)-sponsored Exercise Tradewinds back to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. 

This is the second Tradewinds Phase I exercise we have the pleasure of hosting in the short but productive span of three years. We are therefore very excited to receive another opportunity to facilitate this important multi-disciplinary and multi-agency maritime security and disaster response training. 

This week will see over 500 military, law enforcement and civilian personnel from 20 partner nations, including host country St. Kitts and Nevis, undergo intensive training.  This Phase I training will equip them to move on to Phase II of Exercise Tradewinds, which is going to be held in the Bahamas between June 13th and 21st 

I extend a hearty welcome to the contingents from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America who are joining the St. Kitts and Nevis contingent. 

Welcome! – And please do find some time to relax and immerse yourselves in the tranquil beauty, vibrant culture, and appealing cuisine that St. Kitts and Nevis and its friendly, easygoing people have to offer. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to do some shopping so that you can take remembrances of your experiences and a little piece of this picturesque island gem back with you.  

But before you do all of this, the critically significant work must begin. 

I am told that you will be receiving critical training support from some 18 organizations mostly out of the United States such as the FBI and NCIS, along with regional agencies such as CDEMA, IMPACS and the RSS.  

Additionally, the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force – which is the local agency taking the lead in Phase I of Exercise Tradewinds – will be supported by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force along with, inter alia, NEMA – the national disaster response focal point – and its Nevis counterpart, the National Disaster Management Department, as well as Customs, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Ministry of Health, Immigration, the Red Cross, and other agencies and organizations that are critical to the success of Tradewinds such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media.  

The theme for the Phase I training taking place in St. Kitts and Nevis is Capacity Development Through Integrated Training and Exercises to Confront National Security Challenges of The 21st Century.  This is a most important theme when we reflect upon the fact that our current threat realities cannot be overcome by any one nation, the collective effort of the Caribbean and other nations in the Western Hemisphere is required in our geographical space. 

The strategic objectives of the training are to improve tactical skillsets, as well as enhance cooperation, interoperability, maritime interdiction coordination, networking and information sharing.  

This training – which is tailored for the region by the region and designed to bolster the internal security of the Caribbean – will cover disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and security operations. 

Specifically, the training is designed to prepare participants to better plan for and respond to disasters, emergencies and threats, such as a major natural and/or humanitarian disaster resulting from a devastating earthquake or a catastrophic hurricane – as several of our partner nations and St. Kitts and Nevis experienced last year in the form of Irma and Maria. 

My Government is very pleased that a focus of the Tradewinds training will be on preparing and implementing effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.  

This heartens my Government because we look forward to building on the lessons learned and the insights we gained in the wake of last year’s punishing Atlantic hurricane season.  

I am proud to say that the smallest independent state in the Western Hemisphere punched above its weight, rendering invaluable disaster relief and humanitarian assistance when so many islands were caught off guard.

We recognize the need to further build capacity and capabilities and we are committed to continue to step up to the plate when our beloved fellow neighbours need our help. 

So like the marching of the participants on display here today at Warner Park Cricket Stadium, Tradewinds’ timing is precise, as this year’s Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be active.  This year’s Tradewinds also comes as the Caribbean has been seeing increased seismic activity, most notably from the volcano called Kick ‘em Jenny located 5 miles off Grenada.

I have been assured that we can therefore expect training components or “injects” that reflect real-world scenarios, so that in the face of a real threat our security forces and emergency response personnel will be able to coordinate seamlessly and in a manner and time that both meet international standards.

We take the security of our citizens, residents and visitors seriously, and it is imperative that we do not falter and stop in midstride. 

We boast a large and ever-growing expat population that finds St. Kitts and Nevis a nice, laid-back alternative to the hustle and bustle of their homelands. 

Thirty-five years ago, we started our track record of training American, Canadian and other international students in veterinary medicine and health care.  In 1983, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine came to St. Kitts and several more offshore learning institutions have come throughout the years, bringing a diverse student body from all parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

With this influx of new residents comes the responsibility to protect them and our citizenry.

I am confident that Phase I of Tradewinds 2018 will better prepare St. Kitts and Nevis and indeed our partner nations in protecting against 21st century external threats to national security such as transnational organized crime, including cyber crime, human trafficking, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  I am told, too, that participants will be exposed to bomb disposal techniques or EOD training.

My highest commendations go to the Local Organizing Committee and US SOUTHCOM for planning what will be a well-executed exercise that will pay worthwhile dividends in the long-term.

I wish all of the participants every success and thank you in advance for participating in the community service and outreach to our schools and other public buildings.

My Government and people respect and commend you for all that you do to ensure our safety, security and prosperity, and we stand with you.

Tradewinds 2018 provides our nation’s security, health and emergency resources with an excellent opportunity to build capacities through integrated approaches, and better develop the capabilities needed to protect our citizens from crime and the ravages of disasters that occur in our region, such as hurricanes and floods.  The experience for our “first responders” is invaluable and stands to serve the nation well in the present fight against crime and other forms of adversity that impact the Caribbean. 

St Kitts and Nevis is proud to host Tradewinds 2018.  On behalf of the Government and people, I now declare Tradewinds Exercise 2018 officially open!

May peace and security abound.  God Bless You All.