'Tradewinds' security exercise under way

Guyana Chronicle
April 13, 1999

THE major annual regional `Tradewinds' security exercise "is up and running" here, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) reported yesterday.

About 800 troops from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United States are participating in `Exercise Tradewinds '99' and the GDF said the main body of soldiers began arriving yesterday and more were coming in last night.

The troops move to Tacama today for a one-week period of intense joint training.

Manoeuvres will be at the GDF's main training base at Tacama and at Timehri and the Soesdyke/Linden area.

The GDF said that after the Tacama phase, the troops will return to Timehri where they will be in a field tactical exercise in the environs.

Concurrent with the exercise, the troops will conduct a two-day medical outreach programme for residents of St. Cuthbert's Mission on the Linden/Soesdyke highway.

CARICOM troops and those from the GDF and members of the local Police Force comprise the CARICOM battalion which will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Lovell of the GDF.

The annual training scheme began in the mid 80's and is being sponsored jointly by the U.S. with participation from the Regional Security System (RSS) in the Caribbean.

The exercise is scheduled to run to April 30.

The Tacama phase will see the troops in preparatory training with specific focus on peacekeeping tasks, similar to those undertaken in Haiti in the restoration of order there after a coup several years ago.

The GDF's participation in `Tradewinds' began in 1991 and last year 50 GDF ranks were part of the exercise staged in Belize, where they gained tremendous experience in jungle training in the forest of Central America, as well as amphibious training in the Caribbean Sea, reporters were told at a briefing earlier this month.

Among the countries involved in this year's exercise with the U.S. and Guyana are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Dominican Republic.

GDF Public Relations Officer, Captain Wycliffe McAlliser, yesterday said about 100 British troops due to take part will no longer be participating.

He said this would not affect the `Tradewinds' exercise in any way.

The Caribbean News Agency (CANA) yesterday quoted a spokesman at the British High Commission here as saying the British troops due to be in the scheme were being deployed in the Balkan area because of the continuing crisis in Kosovo.