Wednesday, June 17th, 2015. BMG: Belizeans living in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye woke up this morning to helicopters circling the area, and Navy vessel HMCS Glace Bay docked off the coast – all part of Tradewinds 2015, a military exercise focused on responding to natural disasters, land and maritime threats.
Phase one of the exercise commenced on May 31st in St. Kitts and Nevis, focusing on First Aid, weapons, and fire-fighting/damage control.
Phase two, which focuses on national tactics and procedures for trafficking, intercepting and boarding suspect vessels, began in Belize on Monday, June 15th. This leg of the exercise is expected to until June 24th.
The initiative is led by the U.S Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), and involves participation of 18 nations, with a focus on preventing and countering crime between nations, as well as providing and practicing assistance and disaster relief for countries of the Caribbean.
All is done in an effort to promote cooperation among regional security. The final phase of the exercise takes place in July, in Miami, Florida, where stakeholders and national defense personnel will assess the program in order to better protect, guard and assist different nations during national emergencies.
This is not the first time Belize has been involved in Exercise TRADEWINDS. In 2014, the nation participated in the exercises, gaining valuable knowledge in maritime and coastal defense and natural disaster preparedness.