Flamethrowers and missiles were used in a mock public order situation in the culmination of a five-day course delivered by instructors from the Royal Bermuda Regiment during Exercise TRADEWINDS 23.
Staff from the Guyana Prison Service and Guyana Police Force, as well as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard, received training in how to de-escalate tensions in cases of civil unrest.
Kitted out in personal protective equipment – including helmets, balaclavas, chest guards and shields – their lessons culminated in a simulated disturbance with an increasingly angry mob, role-played by police cadets, on July 19, 2023.
Colour Sergeant Tim Furr, of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the chief instructor for the course, explained: “When you approach a public order scenario, the whole idea is to try to de-escalate, trying to get the crowd to disperse with minimum use of force.
“We have to train for the worst-case scenario; if the talks break down and the crowd gets rowdy, we have to get that under control.
“The approach is always to try to meet the level of aggression of the crowd and not to go beyond that; if any injuries are inflicted on a member of the crowd, we must exercise due care to look after that individual.”
He said one of the RBR’s roles is to support the Bermuda Police Service when required so the battalion, which has five public order instructors in Guyana and several more at home, is well-equipped to respond to unrest if necessary.
CSgt Furr added: “This is the third Tradewinds where we’ve done the public order training and it’s great for us because we’re building on these opportunities and now getting out to deliver it in other nations, particularly Caribbean countries – helping them to improve their capabilities in case anything should happen.”
Twain Hemerding, an Assistant Superintendent of Prisons in the Guyana Prison Service, was among those involved in the mock disturbance, which took place at the country’s National Exhibition Centre.
“We had the opportunity to have a first-hand experience in terms of dealing with public order, dealing with crowd control,” he said. “I think the guys did a wonderful job. We’ll continue to go back to our service and practise.”
Mr Hemerding pointed out that public order instruction was “very much new” to the organisation and added: “We encourage more of the training for the prison service.
“When it comes to a matter of national security, we know we are trained and if we’re being called upon at any point in time to deploy, I think we will be great enough to assist this beautiful nation of ours.”
Prison Officer Candace Lynch, the only female among 26 students on the course, described the programme as “very informative”.
She said: “Working with the guys was great; they really valued my opinion and participation in the exercises.
“I wasn’t treated any differently from the guys, so hopefully we have more females wanting to be a part of these exercises.”
Captain Ryan Eve, the Royal Bermuda Regiment officer in charge of the training, said the lessons included crowd theory and dynamics.
He added: “We’ve been giving the guys the tools needed to really perform those drills – so junction drills, basic public order drills with shields and batons, how to react to petrol bombs and the like, how to manoeuvre and perfect some of those drills.”
Corporal Adrian Badal, of the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard, felt welcomed by the instructors and fellow group members, and said: “It was a very good experience to share different cultures, to see what the guys do and how they communicate.
“I’ll be looking forward to Tradewinds 2024.”
Krisn Ramessar, an officer with the Guyana Prison Service, pointed out that the exercises were sometimes challenging but added: “We have been able to overcome and come together as a group to learn from them.”
About 100 members of the RBR are in Guyana for TRADEWINDS23, which is a US Southern Command-sponsored combined, Caribbean-focused exercise designed to expand the region’s capability to mitigate, plan for and respond to crises and increase regional training capacity and interoperability.
Objectives also include promoting human rights and adherence to shared international norms and values and the full integration of women into forces.
- For more information or to join the Royal Bermuda Regiment, visitbermudaregiment.bmor call 238-1045.