Soldiers help with disaster relief
Bermuda's soldiers are playing a vital behind-the-scenes role in a major disaster relief and security exercise in the Caribbean.
Royal Bermuda Regiment troops are a major component of the land forces for Exercise Tradewinds in St Vincent & the Grenadines – but senior officers are heavily involved as planners and coordinators of the multi-national military force.
Major Dwight Robinson, who commands the RBR's humanitarian aid and disaster relief B Company, as well as being the Band & Corps of Drums Director of Music, is the land forces commander of about 170 multi-national troops involved in the exercise.
He said: “It's been a huge change – not something I, as a musician, would normally be involved in, but there is learning all around here and I'm grateful for the opportunity.”
Maj. Robinson added he appreciated the assistance Major Ben Beasley, the RBR's second-in-command and training officer, had given him.
The multi-national troops in the Tradewinds land forces include several light infantry platoons, humanitarian and disaster relief specialists, a logistics platoon and bomb disposal experts, as well as a Barbados headquartered Regional Security Services platoon.
There are a further 100 sailors on board four patrol vessels, some of which are carrying elite clearance divers.
Maj. Robinson said the soldiers had been involved in missions ranging from disposing of improvised explosive devices, strike operations, which included stopping criminal activity and arrests of criminals and terrorists.
He added: “It all reinforces the skills we would need back home if the need ever arose.”
Maj. Beasley, who is part of the directing staff for the RBR, said he was working with Canadian forces to ensure training and development was maximised.
He added: “It's the most amount of realism we had on an exercise in recent years.
“We are having to work through the exercise and solve real-time problems as well. There is no real safety net – if something happens then the Caribbean Task Force or a company commander has to solve it.”
Maj. Beasley said: “The RBR has far exceeded expectations and they have risen to a level they perhaps didn't believe they could achieve.
“Tradewinds not only confirms our capabilities, it has expanded them and demonstrated to our regional partners our high level of competency.”
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Horton of the Royal Canadian Engineers, said he had been involved in teaching operational planning to officers from other countries.
He added that the 22 countries involved came together with limited experience of multi-national operations.
Col Horton said: “We monitor them through the planning process and get them to execute operations as they are learning.”
He said: “This is a good experience for the Caribbean Task Force and the Royal Bermuda Regiment.”
Lieutenant Commander Cesar Yañez of the Colombian Navy, the deputy chief of staff, said the exercise involved naval vessels from St Vincent, the US, Canada and Holland.,
He added: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment have given us a very good performance. They react quickly and they've done an excellent job.
“Maybe in the future we can work together again and I am able to tell my country how professional the Royal Bermuda Regiment is.”
Lieutenant Colonel Denzil Carmichael of the Guyana Defence Force, the commander of the combined joint task force, said: “This is my first experience with the RBR and what I've seen so far is that they are extremely professional and giving great support to this exercise.”
Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional co-operation 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, Britain, 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 and the United States.
• Press release from the Royal Bermuda Regiment