‘Exercise Tradewinds’ to prepare Guyana for natural disasters, other threats

Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier Godfrey Bess says the US-sponsored multinational event ‘Exercise Tradewinds’ will build Guyana’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and other threats.

The two-week exercise was launched on Sunday at Base Camp Ayanganna.

Brigadier Bess said the Caribbean security-focused exercise will include land, air, sea and cyberspace training.

Chief of Staff of the GDF Brigadier Godfrey Bess

The army chief also noted Guyana’s unprecedented rainfalls and the resulting floods as an area that could attract some attention.

“During this exercise we are hopeful that the training engaged will aid in troops determining the best practices of handling such occurrences.”

He added that the troops will also be helping the relief efforts by airlifting items to flood-affected communities during the exercise.

Some of the troops from participating nations at the launch of the event.

Brigadier Bess said sustained peace within the Caribbean and other nations is critical, especially with unprecedented changes in the political, economic, environmental and human sustainability spectrums. He noted that natural disasters and narcotrafficking remain threats to social and economic stability in the Caribbean.

“It has become necessary over the decades to engage our security forces as would be appropriate given their constitutional roles. Such engagement tends to be limited in scope but has generally aided in the maintenance of internal stability in some of our states,” he said.

Deputy Director of Exercises and Coalition Affairs, US Southern Command Mr. Kevin Bostick

Exercise Tradewinds was originally scheduled for 2020 but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Director of Exercises and Coalition Affairs, US Southern Command, Mr. Kevin Bostick said the exercise is now being undertaken after a year of planning.

Some of the troops from participating nations at the launch of the event.

“What this does is build partnership, strengthen our partner capacity, it shows the security efforts to defeat threats if need be and we know nobody can do it alone,” he said.

The exercise will be held at several locations across the country. All training locations will provide opportunities for joint, combined, and interagency partner capacity building, and will focus on increasing regional cooperation in complex, multinational security operations

Some of the troops from participating nations at the launch of the event.

The other participating nations are the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

U.S. Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch, Commissioner of Police (ag) and Director General of the Civil Defence Commission Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig were present at the exercise’s launch.

Guyana last hosted Exercise Tradewinds in 1999.

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