JDF says increased military activity is regional exercise

JDF says increased military activity is regional exercise

Military movements will be concentrated around JDF bases

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 05, 2016

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For the next three to four weeks Jamaicans will need to get used to the sight of soldiers from 19 countries travelling across the island as they engage in activities associated with ‘Exercise Tradewinds’ maritime and land operations.

Exercise Tradewinds is a United States Department of State regional security partnership supporting the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative or, to be more specific, an annual multinational maritime interdiction, ground security and interagency exercise facilitated and funded by the US.

It will focus on countering transnational organised crime and will involve the training of troops from countries in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France.

The activities in Jamaica will not start until June 20, but spokesman for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major Basil Jarrett, says that, as of today, the public may start seeing the movement of foreign military personnel, vehicles and equipment, as preparations are made for the local leg of the three-phase exercise.

Phases one and two will involve maritime and land operations and will be held in Grenada from June 5-14, and then in Jamaica from June 20-28. The final phase will be a key leadership seminar scheduled for July 20-22 in Miami, Florida.

Major Jarrett says it is important that the public be made aware of the exercise prior to June 20 to avoid rumours and speculation, as it is the first time it is being held in Jamaica.

"Somebody has already asked me if the troops are coming to assist in the search for ‘Duppy Flim’ (Jamaica’s most wanted criminal)," humoured Major Jarrett, who is in charge of civil/military cooperation and media affairs at Up Park Camp.

He said that the activities will be concentrated in the areas where JDF camps are situated, including Port Royal, Moneague, Twickenham Park, and Up Park Camp. However, he said troops will be transported by helicopters and motor vehicles to and from these areas.

"There is also going to be a ship in Montego Bay as part of the exercise, and the public will be invited to tour the vessel while it is here," Major Jarrett stated.

"There will be no live firing outside bases such as Twickenham Park, Green Bay and Up Park Camp and explosives will be confined to inside these camps," he added.

Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Derrick Smith, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the exercise is another in the JDF’s tradition of cooperating in the training of personnel from the Caribbean and other regions in security measures.

"So, despite the fact that there are 19 countries involved in Exercise Tradewinds, there is no need for alarm, as the activities are not expected to affect normal, routine activities nor create any inconvenience for citizens and/or visitors," Smith said.

"We look forward to hosting this training exercise, which is in the interest of the country’s efforts to address transnational organised crime and disasters by increasing cooperation in complex, multinational security operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations," Smith added.

The JDF has asked citizens not to interfere with and/or remove any training aides they may come across.

"In the event that unexploded ordnances or paraphernalia are found, please report these to the JDF headquarters at telephone number 960-8776," the JDF has asked.

Other countries involved in the exercise are: Antigua & Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; St. Kitts/Nevis; Suriname; St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Participating regional institutions include: the Regional Security System; Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and Caricom. Next year Barbados will host Exercise Tradewinds.

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