‘Real and present danger’ – 1, 500 soldiers from over 15 countries in Guyana for Tradewinds 23
Guyana is preparing to host the 2023 Tradewinds Exercise for the third time over the next seven days (July 14 – July 21) with the last iteration successfully held here in 2021.
As such, some 1, 500 troops from over 15 countries will participate in this session of the annual activity being held since 1984 and spearheaded by the U.S Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
Foreign troops began arriving in Guyana on Friday and a launch activity was held on Saturday at Base Camp Ayanganna in Georgetown.
Designed to expand the region’s capability and develop new and refine existing Standard Operating Procedures, the activity is also aimed at enhancing the country’s ability to defend exclusive economic zones, increase readiness, promote human rights and adherence to sharded international norms and values.
Through these training activities, workshops and joint exercises to take place in the coming days, the organisers also hope to ensure the full integration of women in the armed forces and increase maritime domain awareness to deter illegal fishing activities.
The participating countries are Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, United States, France, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname and Trinidad.
The exercise is being held under the United States’ enduring promise and commitment to the Caribbean region through the strengthening of partnerships, training of security and defence personnel and respect for human and fundamental rights.
Guyana’s National Security Advisor, Captain Gerald Gouveia addressed the gathering on Saturday and recommitted Guyana to maintaining peace in the region.
He said the Caribbean has long been known as the zone of peace and “we must ensure to keep it that way.”
Recognising the United States as the “big brother of the region,” Gouveia said Guyana will continue to maintain, preserve and protect democracy in the region.
He believes, however, that with the developments in Venezuela and Haiti, “destabilisation of the region is a real and present danger.”
“Guyana is committed to maintaining peace,” the Security Advisor assured those gathered.
Several regional organisations are scheduled to participate in Tradewinds 23, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Regional Security System (RSS), the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Guyana’s Army Chief, Brigadier Omar Khan also addressed the launch event on Saturday and highlighted the common vision for regional security shared among the participating countries and agencies.
“I encourage all troops to make use of the opportunities these exercises will bring.
“For Guyana, a budding oil-producing nation, this exercise comes at a significant point in history and we are grateful for this opportunity,” Brigadier Khan said.
Part of the exercise will deal with oil spill response readiness.
And Major General William Thigpen, who is the Commanding General of U.S. Army South, reiterated that the U.S presence here is to demonstrate an enduring commitment to the disaster response and preparedness of the region.
He said the aim was and will always be a “safe and secure environment for the shared neighbourhood.”