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US-sponsored Caribbean military exercise opens in Guyana

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 July 2023, 14:24 by Denis Chabrol

Left to right: National Security Adviser Gerry Gouveia, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Brigadier Omar Khan and Commanding General of the US Southern Command, Major General William Thigpen

The United States’ Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM)-led Caribbean security exercise, Tradewinds 2023. was officially declared open in Guyana on Saturday with the aim of preparing for threats and ensuring peace and stability.

Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier Omar Khan said this year’s exercise includes comprehensive disaster management training, and simulated oil spill scenarios. “The inclusion of these critical components underscores our recognition of the ever-present threats posed by natural disasters and environmental hazards,” he said.

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch said Exercise Tradewinds embeds human rights, women, peace and security issues. She said Tradewinds also promotes the long-term goal of development and prosperity in Guyana and the wider Caribbean. “Ensuring security and ensuring stability as well as responding to natural disasters will continue to foster an environment which citizens can face in their homes and more willing to invest in their future,” she told the opening ceremony at the GDF’s Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna, Georgetown.

More than 1,500 person from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, France, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago are participating in the ground, air, sea and cyber domains.

A factsheet says Tradewinds 2023 is focused in foreign military interaction, maritime interdiction, ground security, and field training exercises supporting SOUTHCOM’s campaign plan. The document also states that military exercise includes scenarios focusing on countering transnational criminal organisations and violent extremist organisations to help finalise the Caribbean Community’s Standard Operating Procedures, enhance regional collaboration and stability and effective response to other security threats.

Mr Khan urged all troops to take advantage of opportunities during the exercise to exchange knowledge, best practices and lessons learnt. He said Exercise Tradewinds would strengthen their capability and regional capacity to address those challenges. Specifically, he said this year’s exercise was particularly relevant to Guyana, a “budding oil producing nation”, as it would assist in timely and purposeful interventions.

Commanding General of the US Southern Command, Major General William Thigpen said the partnerships among the militaries and other organisations were built on trust and common understanding to provide a safe and secure environment for their shared neighbourhood.

Guyana’s National Security Adviser Mr Gerald Gouveia underscores the importance of integrated security and preservation of democracy unlike Venezuela and Haiti. “Colleagues, we must keep our eye on the stability of this region. We share some common values and principles- values of democracy, values of human rights, values of freedoms, values of transparency and good governance. And everyday, our Western partners remind us and everyday we make a further commitment to embracing and hugging those principles and that is what I beloieve bind us with the rest of the Caribbean,” he said.

This is the third time that Guyana is hosting Exercise Tradewinds.

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July 2023