A multi-national task force tackled a simulated bomb alert at a hotel in St Vincent at the weekend as part of the major exercise TRADEWINDS 2019.
Troops from the Royal Bermuda Regiment joined forces with Caribbean, US and French forces on a security exercise which featured an abandoned suitcase leaking fluid in a hotel lobby.
The security team, which evacuated the Blue Lagoon Hotel in the Ratho Mills district of St Vincent & the Grenadines, and bomb disposal experts were delivered to the scene in an RBR vehicle with a police escort.
Private Camille Jones, an RBR signaler who acted as the team’s communications specialist, said: “I’m with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and transmitting what’s going on to the commanders back at base.”
The 24-year-old bank customer services assistant from Smith’s Parish added: “I’m enjoying the trip and the adventure. It’s been amazing.
“It’s been great working with all these different countries. I’ve met people from all over the world.”
Pte Jones is part of the 120-strong RBR contingent on phase two of Exercise TRADEWINDS, a major security and disaster relief training programme with 22 countries involved.
Corporal Douglas Caesar of the Royal St Vincent & the Grenadines Police Force, who was among the first responders to arrive at the scene of the bomb exercise on Saturday (JUN 15), said he had participated in the annual TRADEWINDS exercise, run by the US military’s Southern Command, when it took place in Antigua and Jamaica.
He added: “I’m not directly involved this time, but I know it’s a useful exercise. You never know when you might be called on to assist your sister countries.
“It’s training everyone to one standard so there won’t be any hiccups. It’s also building bonds of friendship with places like Bermuda.”
Bermudian soldiers joined troops from other countries in reaction to a scenario based around a terrorist mass shooting at a cricket match at the Arnos Vale sports stadium in Arnos Vale.
A sweep of the stadium found a “bomb” and RBR soldiers deployed a cordon around the stadium.
RBR medics set up an emergency triage post and prepared to treat casualties from the incident while bomb disposal experts disposed of the device.
RBR Lance Corporal Donavin Trott-Burchall, of Boat Troop, but seconded to B Company for TRADEWINDS, said: “We’re doing a perimeter check, looking for the suspects – six people in two vehicles.
“I’m enjoying the whole experience. I like travelling to new places and the people here are really nice.”
The 26-year-old from Devonshire added: “The great thing about the Regiment is that you get to travel, meet new people and you build lifelong relationships with your fellow soldiers.”
Captain Shaun Richards of the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force, who acted as part of the Regional Observer Assessment Team, said the different countries involved were still in the early stages of working together.
He added: “There are things which will need to be worked on, but this is a learning experience.
“I am sure everyone involved is learning a lot and it’s good for all the countries taking part in TRADEWINDS.”
Edward Rodgers, the US Southern Command deputy divisional chief for training and exercises and a former US Marine Corps officer, said after the stadium scenario: “Each day everyone is getting better.
“There was some good training today. They were able to respond in a timely manner and the casualties were treated as fast as possible.
“It’s an improvement on yesterday and we expect more improvements as the exercise goes on.”
Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional cooperation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work.
Countries taking part include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.