Grenada’s readiness to deal with natural disasters will be put to the test when the 2016 Trade Winds Exercise takes place from June 5-12.
The exercise, which is to be spearheaded by the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), involves all of the member-countries of the Barbados-based Regional Security Services (RSS), which comprises seven Police Forces and three armies of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the United States Army.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Franklyn Redhead told reporters at a media briefing last week Wednesday that while the overall command resides within the domain of the local authorities, it is a shared responsibility with local shareholders involving the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) and RGPF.
The United States will provide support in terms of the exercise control group, and logistical support to ensure that the exercise meets its objective.
According to the senior Police officer, the overall concept of the Trade Winds Exercise is to support the Caribbean Security Base Initiative.
“Trade Winds is a unique opportunity for Caribbean Nations to practice skills that they would normally apply to crisis scenarios or situations,” he said.
He said the whole concept of the exercise is based on crawl, walk and run.
The strategic themes of the exercise are to support or counteract trans-national organised crime, and to assist Caribbean Nations in building resilience and being self-sufficient in the ways that they respond to a range of issues from crime as well as disaster response.
Deputy Commissioner Redhead noted that whenever there is an issue that requires a response, it comes from persons from the army, police forces, Non-Governmental Organisations, and other stakeholders.
“Getting them to gel together… is one of the key features of Trade Winds to ensure that we are different in the way that we conduct our routine business, but when an issue arises we have to develop some framework to ensure that we collaborate and co-operate in the context of responding to a particular challenge,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Redhead who provided the media with an extensive update on what the Trade Winds Exercise entails called for the consciousness of the Grenadian population during the seven-day activity.
The top ranking local Police Officer, as Head Planner for the exercise, said the objective behind Trade Winds is to support the Caribbean in its security aspirations, and that it is sponsored by the government of the United States.
The exercise will focus this year on humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the context of supporting what Grenada has to do in the event that it faces a crisis.
It will also concentrate on responding to mass evacuation.
The entire exercise scenario is premise on an earthquake in the Atlantic Ocean, which causes a Tsunami in the Town of Grenville, resulting in evacuation on the east coast for four to six hours.
Deputy Commissioner Redhead disclosed that they have set their aspiration very high in terms of 300 to 500 persons to test the security forces.
“The issue here is really drawing out the lessons that we need to learn in a mass evacuation scenario,” he told reporters.
The RGPF No.2 ranking police officer provided the media with an insight into what to expect during the days of the exercise.
He said that between June 5-12 the National Emergency Operation and the District Emergency Operation centres will be engaged by participating in academics, a table top exercise, and three days of walk-drills at St. George’s University.
While this is taking place, the security forces will be having their own training on matters of human rights, integration, internal security, and evacuation.
The security forces will also be engaged in shooting scenarios, which include range shooting, and situation shooting, followed by field training exercises at the west coast around the tank farm at Grand Mal, St. George’s for about four to six hours on June 9.
Deputy Commissioner Redhead indicated that the tank farm has significant importance to Grenada hence the reason why the field training exercise will take place there.
“If we loose the tank farm through some criminal activity or some terrorist events, then it is going to affect Grenada significantly in the short term,” he said.
The coast guards from across the region including Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, RSS Countries, and Martinique will be involved in a marine training exercise geared at counteracting transnational organised crimes.
Deputy Commissioner Redhead said the organisers of Trade Winds 2016 will create an artificial environment to test the local procedures and systems.
Participants will be arriving in Grenada between June 1 and 4.