UK and Caribbean defence leaders hold meeting

UK and Caribbean defence leaders hold meeting

Saturday, November 28, 2020

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — British and Caribbean defence leaders are hoping to meet annually to discuss continued mutual support and leveraging the strengths of each individual nation for the benefit of collective regional security, working in cooperation with the United Kingdom, according to a statement released here.

The statement said that the UK Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, recently hosted a successful inaugural defence conference with fellow chiefs of defence from across the Caribbean region and that “there was unanimous agreement among participating nations that this high-level engagement should become an annual event, enabling the sharing of best practice, discussion of issues that unite the UK with Caribbean partners, and a means of driving forward developments”.

The meeting was attended by defence leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

The statement said that the Caribbean focused conference comes just months after Sir Nick Carter made an unpublicised, 24-hour working visit to Jamaica in January.

UK Defence Attaché to the Caribbean, Lt Col Simon Westlake Royal Marines, noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a physical inaugural conference, the use of a virtual platform did not inhibit the UK's most senior military leader from having constructive talks with his Caribbean partners.

“Following his visit to the region earlier this year, General Sir Nick Carter was very keen to continue his discussions with our Caribbean partners and this conference was the next natural step. We have common values, common interests and face shared threats — and UK Defence will work closely with our Caribbean partners to tackle the challenges that we all face,” Westlake said.

“Whilst initiatives agreed at this event will be considered for further work, planning will start now for a larger, and hopefully physical, conference next year. Hosted by respective British diplomatic posts for the conference, Chiefs of Defence were able to continue their discussions with British High Commissioners and Ambassadors for an extended period after the meeting,” he added.

Chief of Staff at the Barbados Defence Force, Colonel Glyne Grannum, who participated in the two-hour virtual forum said, “the conference was a most useful one in bringing together the cross-Atlantic military strategic leadership to discuss matters related to transnational security”.

“The forum established a most-welcomed platform for future engagements which are eagerly anticipated,” said Colonel Grannum, who was accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Carlos Lovell at the conference.

The statement noted that British ships, with coalition partners, have recently seized £377 million (One British Pound=US$1, 33 cents) of illegal narcotics in eight carefully planned boarding operations in the Caribbean.

Currently British naval ship RFA ARGUS is supporting relief efforts in Honduras, aided by British soldiers in Belize following the impact of Hurricane Eta.

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