News: SOCSOUTH, Trinidad and Tobago security forces partner during training exchange
Story by Capt. Daisy Bueno
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Service members assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), in support of Special Operations Command South, trained with Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF), Coast Guard Special Naval Unit (SNU) and Multi-Operational Police Service (MOPS) as part of a month-long Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) focusing on drug interdiction from Jan. 12 to Feb. 14.
JCETs allow U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) possess critical skills, build foreign relationships and gain military and cultural experiences. The JCET also allows service members to build rapport, military capacity and relationships with military members from Trinidad and Tobago.
The four-week JCET provided an exceptional opportunity for Green Berets from the 7th SFG (A) and an U.S. aviation element from 160th SOAR (A) to train on marksmanship, equipment maintenance, rappelling, fast-roping, and various other tactical maneuvers with Trinidad and Tobago military members and each other.
“We are building relationships, so if something should happen in the future, and we need to work together again, we facilitate a more advantageous exchange to accomplish the mission,” said the SOCSOUTH liaison to the 160th SOAR (A) unit. “This was an excellent example of the cooperation that exists between U.S. SOF ground forces, aviation elements and our partner nation counterparts.”
JCETs also allow U.S. military personnel to improve their teaching skills and gain regional knowledge, and the event serves as a great opportunity to learn from their counterparts.
“If we should ever have to serve side-by-side in the future, it is important that we train and prepare together in a variety of scenarios and situations,” said a 7th Group team leader. “This will make us more effective on any other future missions.
At the end of the four weeks, a culmination exercise was conducted on Chacachacare Island, the western-most island off of Trinidad, which tested all the skills that were practiced during the JCET. NSU naval boats were used to transport TTDF and 7th SFG (A) members, while U.S. military helicopters transported SNU over the forest canopy onto their target. The combined SOF members rappelled onto the Landing Zone and met up with the members traveling via boat during the training scenario. The teams cleared a building, accomplished their objective and then departed by boat and fast rope via helicopter when the exercise was complete.
“I felt that we built capabilities and interoperability with this unit, and I definitely hope that we continue to work together for many years to come,” said a 7th SFG (A) team leader.
Trinidad and Tobago’s geographical position, its porous borders, and its direct transportation routes to Europe, West Africa, the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean make it an ideal location for drug transshipment.
This exchange greatly benefited Trinidad and Tobago’s security forces getting the opportunity to learn new techniques as they protect their nation from the threat of Transnational Organized Crime.
“This was a great training experience,” said a TTDF member. “Everyone was professional and we all learned from each other. I hope that we can continue this partnership for several years.”
JCETs are also part of Special Operations Command South’s Theater Security Cooperation program that enables Special Operations Forces (SOF) train with partner nation military and defense forces overseas.
This type of training is essential in ensuring successful cooperation during combined missions in multinational environments.
SOCSOUTH, based in Homestead, Fla., is responsible for all U.S. Special Operations activities in the Caribbean, Central and South America and serves as the SOF component for U.S. Southern Command under the direction of U.S. Special Operations Command.