News: Tradewinds 2013 kicks off in Saint Lucia
Story by Staff Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes
CASTRIES, Saint Lucia - Law enforcement and military representatives from 14 partner nations and the United States gathered at the Royal Saint Lucia Police Academy here to mark the official beginning of Tradewinds 2013.
The ceremony featured opening comments and remarks from Mr. Vernon Francois, Commissioner of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, and U.S. military officers focusing on the importance of the 29th iteration of the annual event.
“Your presence here shows you are committed to regional integration”, Commissioner Francois said to the formation of exercise participants. “Doing these types of exercises is important. In doing the simulations you can afford to make mistakes, so when it comes to the real-life situation you will be in a better position to deal with it.”
Tradewinds 2013 is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-approved, combined and joint exercise conducted in conjunction with partner nations to enhance the collective ability of their defense forces and constabularies to counter transnational organized crime and conduct humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
The annual exercise focuses on increasing regional cooperation to counter illicit trafficking, eliminate regional threats, and build participating nations’ capacity to plan and execute complex multinational security operations at the tactical and operational levels.
“Our regional threat is not a particular country or specific ideology. I think that we can agree that the great majority of the Caribbean countries share the thought that freedom of country is incomplete without freedom of mind and spirit of the individual citizen,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Augustine Bolanio, the director of exercise for U. S. Marine Corps Forces South. “These are threats that one country will not eliminate individually, but we can ameliorate or reduce the threat by working together in a common goal—and Tradewinds is a forum that brings us together to prepare for that threat.”
Tradewinds 2013 will focus on strengthening existing regional partnerships and encouraging the establishment of new relationships through the exchange of mission-focused knowledge and expertise so each participating country will improve capabilities in what it considers key security priorities.
Tradewinds 2013 will bring together more than 260 law enforcement officers, military personnel, and government representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.