Tradewinds exercise to zero in on problem of drugs and illegal guns

Organizers of next month’s Exercise Tradewinds have sought to assure members of the public that their concerns about rising gun and drug crimes will not be overlooked.

Addressing a town hall meeting at Lester Vaughn School on Wednesday night, co-director of the event Major Carlos Lovell said both issues would be explored during the June 6-12 exercise.

He was responding to a member of the audience, who wanted to know why this year’s military exercise was focusing on disaster preparedness when the island was experiencing an increase in gun violence.

“The reason why you will see a heavy slant towards natural hazards is because this is the only aspect of the exercise where we will be involving civilians in terms of the volunteer aspect. There will be a very robust and complex aspect of the exercise, which places focus  – and in some cases even more attention  – on illegal guns, drugs and trafficking.

“The security forces are going to be faced with a number of different scenarios during the exercise. Some of those scenarios include interdicting, importing, whether on sea or through the various ports,” Lovell explained.

He said Exercise Tradewinds also provides an opportunity to test the operations of the participating agencies and departments.

“Even though you evaluate a cross-section of an organization, the standard operating procedure of that organization should still shine through.

“At the end of the day the evaluation will give some determination as to whether we are on course, whether we need to revisit it; things of that nature. So one of the key things we want to evaluate during Exercise Tradewinds is also the standard operating procedure, the protocols, procedures and so on of the various agencies and departments that are involved,” Station Officer of the Barbados Fire Service Henderson Patrick told the audience.

Henderson Patrick, Station Officer, Barbados Fire Service

Lovell also hinted at the type of natural disaster that would be simulated during the exercise, which will involve personnel from the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“We have been experiencing some seismic activity in the region so we figured that the most relevant natural phenomenon that we can focus on is something which involves seismic activity,” he said.

A regional observer assessment team will be monitoring the event. Lovell told the meeting that a report would be compiled at the end of the exercise. However certain security aspects would not be made public.

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