Tradewinds23: Soldiers trained to fast rope, experienced US Black Hawk helicopter

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Exercise Tradewinds23 is underway in Guyana and on Monday participating soldiers were taken to Air Force London at Timehri, East Bank Demerara where they exchanged skills and techniques used to conduct airborne military operations.

The day’s activities saw ranks who are attached to the Special Force Unit of the participating countries partaking in fast roping exercises, equipping them to descend structures and helicopters using only their hands and feet.

This strategy is usually applied in instances where helicopters are unable to land.

The News Room spoke to two of the participating ranks who shared their experiences.

Constable Rubinia Joseph of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force said the training will play a vital role in her career, particularly since her country is hurricane prone.

“…I will be taking back the skills that I just learned, fast roping from a helicopter.

“As you know our country is hurricane built and every year we have to go through search and rescue missions and I think that skill is one that is paramount to us being able to execute our duties…a little bit more efficiently,” she said.

Currently, Constable Joseph said St Lucia Police Force does not have a defence force. As such, the Special Force Unit is the military arm of the force.

More than 1500 soldiers from over 21 countries are participating in exercise Tradewinds23.Soldiers participating in Exercise Tradewinds23 took part in fast roping, equipping them to descend from structures and helicopters. (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/July 17,2023)

Meanwhile, Woman Marine Kameisha Brown of the Bahamas Defence Force described the experience as “nerve-racking.”

It was the first time for Brown to participate in fast roping.

“…The jump was nerve-racking at first and then exciting in the end,” she said

She noted that while it is not a technique used in her country, she is now equipped to apply it if the need arises.

“Experiencing it with the various different countries it’s an amazing thing…That would have been my first fast roping experience so I will take that back home as well as some of the different other techniques,” Brown noted.

The participating soldiers were also given the opportunity to experience training using the US Army Black Hawk helicopter as part of tactical operations.

The Black Hawk has the capacity to carry up to 11 troops and 5000 tonnes at a time.

The ranks who took part in the US multinational exercise were armed and equipped throughout the training. More than 1500 soldiers from over 21 countries are participating in exercise Tradewinds23.Soldiers participating in Exercise Tradewinds23 took part in fast roping, equipping them to descend from structures and helicopters. (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/July 17,2023)

Travis Kittleson of the US Army explained that the equipment will be providing the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) with logistical support throughout the exercise.

“We will have a medic on board the aircraft…if there is a casualty in any of the training exercises or at any point that we need to evacuate to the hospital, we will land, our medex will get out and assist in evaluating the casualty on the ground,” Kittleson explained.

“Once we get them on the aircraft, it takes us roughly 20 to 30 minutes to fly from any of the landing areas or training sites to get that casualty back to the hospital…it’s about six hours on the road to get anywhere,” he said.

Over 1500 soldiers from more than 21 countries are here in Guyana to participate in the US Southern Commander exercise Tradewinds23.

Participating soldiers partake in airborne operations at Air Base London, Timehri, East Bank Demerara

Exercise Tradewinds is designed to strengthen partnerships, promote human rights as well as increase participants’ training capacity and capability to mitigate, plan and respond to regional crises and security threats.

The exercise is being held from July 15 to 28 at various locations across the country.

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