Close to 100 sailors and soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces are now in the Caribbean as part of Exercise TRADEWINDS 17, a multinational maritime interdiction, ground security and interagency operation led by the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).
A news release from Canada’s Department of National Defence says that with a crew of 40, the maritime costal vessel HMCS Kingston is supporting various naval tasks as part of the exercise, including employing the Hammerhead Unmanned Surface Vehicle target.
The release also notes that the Fleet Dive Unit (Atlantic) is providing training to divers from ten partner nations in the region in areas including search patterns, hull and jetty search techniques, evidence recovery, and nighttime diving operations. This unit is partnering with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to teach underwater evidence recovery techniques.
In addition, two six-person contingents from the 2nd and 5th Canadian Army Divisions are providing training in operational planning to staff from partner nations. The Canadian contingents will serve as advisors and mentors for those staff “as they manage responses to challenging scenarios,” says the release.
The Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) will also deploy in response to a simulated humanitarian crisis during the exercise. This joint Canadian Armed Forces and Global Affairs Canada team will practice coordinating with regional partners.
Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 is taking place from June 6 to 17 in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
Canada is also partnering with Trinidad and Tobago to practice a scenario under the Proliferation Security Initiative. It will include a counter proliferation component simulating the interdiction of a merchant ship suspected of carrying illegal WMD-related materials.
Harjit S. Sajjan, Canada’s Defence Minister, notes in the news release that ” the Canadian Armed Forces play an important role in the Government of Canada’s efforts in the Caribbean region through efforts like Exercise TRADEWINDS.
” Participation in Exercise TRADEWINDS allows our personnel to make a meaningful contribution in capacity-building with regional partners and gives the Canadian Armed Forces the opportunity to work with important allies in response to a variety of challenges, ” he says.
Along with military personnel from the United States, Canada, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, participating countries in Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago
The news release notes that Caribbean states, located along major maritime illicit trafficking routes to both North America and Europe, have been particularly vulnerable to the activities of transnational criminal organizations.
It points out that natural disasters are also a frequent threat and regional integration remains limited even though most Caribbean countries are members of cooperative security organizations.
The release also notes that the Caribbean region is a hub of international activity and has great importance for international commerce.
“While not extremely large, the region requires international cooperation to monitor the area and meet its unique challenges. The Caribbean Sea remains an important area of Canadian interest as it is host to a significant volume of Canadian trade and tourism,” it says.