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Several Vincentians will join their law enforcement, military, and government representative colleagues from 16 nations to take part in Tradewinds 2013, an annual multinational exercise involving the United States.

St. Lucia will host representatives from 16 partner nations and the United States for Tradewinds 2013, from today — May 20 — to May 31.

Tradewinds 2013 will bring together more than 260 law enforcement officers, military personnel, and government representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces South, the executive agent of Tradewinds 2013 for U.S. Southern Command, will conduct the maritime training exercise in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and other facilitating agencies.

Tradewinds 2013 focuses on increasing regional cooperation in the effort to counter illicit trafficking and build participating nations’ capacity to plan and execute complex multinational security operations. The training also provides an emphasis on reinforcing human rights awareness in the conduct of security operations.

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The Tradewinds 2013 exercise objective is to strengthen existing regional partnerships and encourage the establishment of new relationships through the exchange of focused knowledge and expertise, while allowing each participating country an opportunity to improve capabilities in what it considers key security mission priorities.

In preparation for Tradewinds 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter OAK arrived at the port in Castries yesterday. The USCGC OAK is a state of the art U.S. Coast Guard cutter that is designed to execute the full spectrum of Coast Guard operations but primarily functions as a logistical and maintenance platform for other vessels. The USCGC OAK will be heavily involved in training partner nations on maritime law enforcement tactics, search and rescue techniques and engineering administration procedures.

Interceptor vessels from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia will also play key roles in the maritime training exercise of Tradewinds 2013. The Interceptors from outside of St. Lucia also arrive to port Castries on May 19. These vessels are part of a US$ 18.9 million program funded by the United States under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.