News: US Coast Guard participates in Exercise Tradewinds 2012
Story by Stephen Lehmann
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Through the sweltering 85-degree Caribbean heat and 79 percent humidity, U.S. Coast Guard members are renewing partnerships with 16 other countries during Exercise Tradewinds 2012.
Tradewinds is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-directed, U.S. Southern Command-sponsored annual exercise conducted by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South in cooperation with partner nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Every year, the United States provides representatives from all five of its military branches, as well as agencies like the FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Joint Coalition Warfighting Center. They come together to share mission-focused knowledge and expertise, so each participating country will be able to improve capabilities in what it considers key missions, resulting in enhanced regional maritime capabilities and security.
The U.S. Coast Guard brings its skills to Tradewinds by providing team coordination training, maritime law enforcement training and incident command structure training to enhance partner nation capabilities in the area of risk management.
U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Tomas Kringel, Tradewinds 2012 lead maritime officer, sees a deep importance in making sure that these partner nations can effectively operate together if the situation calls for it. With 15 Caribbean islands participating in this year’s Tradewinds event, each no more than 104 miles apart from any other one and each with its own navy and/or coast guard, if a disaster or large scale operation were to occur, the probability of two or more of these countries coming together to coordinate a response is very high.
“What we’re doing is offering them a platform so they can come together and conduct subject matter exchanges and refine their already exceptional skills,” said Kringel. “In the case of a regional incident, they know each other already. They’ve worked together.”
For Kringel, having the U.S. Coast Guard as a Tradewinds participant brings additional capabilities in maritime operations and team building to the table.
“We bring a lot of interagency and interoperability skills to Tradewinds,” said Kringel. “Whenever we respond, we become part of a bigger team, like during Hurricane Katrina or Deepwater Horizon. We have trained and honed our culture to the point that other agencies look to us when it comes to lasting partnerships.”
“One of the biggest things our partner nations ask us is to try to find a way to work with each of our country’s individual sister agencies, so that they have better partnership collaborations and yet maintain their service or agency integrity,” said Kringel. “And I think we’re definitely doing that here.”
Barbadian Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Neville Springer, acting commanding officer of Her Majesty’s Barbadian Ship Pelican, appreciates the opportunities Tradewinds brings.
“To me, the most important thing we can take away is if I call [Southern Command] and talk to Cmdr. Kringel, I’m not speaking to a name. I’m speaking to a face,” said Springer. “And when he hears Cmdr. Springer, he can picture me. We’ve interacted and, therefore, we can relate on that personal level and get things done. I think that’s a wonderful thing.”
“I tell my people all the time: if you take anything from Tradewinds, take a friend,” said Springer.