Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 underway in the Caribbean

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).

Petty Officer Second Class Gordon McMillan from Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic instructs a diver from Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard during search pattern dive training in the vicinity of Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago as part of Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 on June 3, 2017.
Photo: Captain Christopher Daniel, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
A member of the Maritime Tactical Operators Group (MTOG) mentors Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) members as they conduct infiltration drills for boarding party training at the TTCG base in Chaguaramas, Trinidad as part of Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 on June 8, 2017.
LS Zachariah Stopa, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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.