Story and photos by:
Lt. Cmdr. Ryan P. Kelley
When it comes to combating transnational criminal organizations in the Caribbean and securing America’s borders, the cooperation with partner nations in the region continues to thrive. This relationship was tangible as representatives from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Bahamas, and the United States gathered at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, Florida, to exchange ideas, best practices and maintenance concepts for short range patrol craft and coastal security boats.
“The Royal Bahamas Defense Force is proud to be a part of this initiative,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sonia Miller, a supply and logistics officer with the RBDF. “Every time we gather with our partners, we walk away with a greater awareness of the challenges each one faces when it comes to ship’s maintenance.”
There was unanimous agreement that proper maintenance is critical to sustaining the longevity of assets, which helps perpetuate coastal security in the region. Maintenance standards supported by reliable logistics keep patrol forces on the water and enable assets to meet their serviceable lifespan.
“This event was an exceptional example of regional collaboration toward common goals of enhancing vessel availability,” said host Lt. Cmdr. Jason Plumley of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The principles discussed and cross-examined by our partners strengthens the entire region and acts as a force multiplier in the Western Hemisphere.”
Standardization was an evident theme at the gathering as U.S. Coast Guard representatives discussed and shared lessons learned from standardization initiatives in their service. The establishment and adherence to service-wide standards for training, maintenance and logistics procedures eliminates confusion and manages expectations when members transfer between units, said one of the U.S. Coast Guard officers participating in the exchange.
The U.S. Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy cites increased globalization as a driving force for greater interdependence among nations and regions and the CBSI is highlighted by this strategy as the most notable recent effort to combat TOC, drug-related violence and trafficking, as well as terrorism.
In July of 2016, Commander of U.S. Southern Command Adm. Kurt W. Tidd said, “None of us, no single department or agency, and no single nation, can do it alone. If we’re serious about combating these networks, it will truly require all hands on deck.”
The ongoing partnerships of the CBSI bring action to this strategy. The exchanges and regional cooperation between field units and maintenance coordinators fuel the operations that enforce applicable laws, secure a maritime realm that faces a diverse array of threats, and protects America’s homeland.
This exchange culminated Thursday as crew members from the Key West-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter William Trump hosted a tour and demonstration of training and capabilities. Commanding Officer Lt. Jeffrey Matejka had all hands on deck to host technical discussions and to demonstrate standard risk management practices that are required aboard the fast response cutter fleet.
“We are a multi-mission service much like the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rajesh Boodoo, an engineering officer with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. “The exchange of ideas and knowledge between all our partners is critical to effectively combat drug and human trafficking but also improves our abilities in search and rescue, and coastal security operations.”
An initiative launched by the State Department in 2010, the CBSI is one pillar of a U.S. security strategy focused on citizen safety throughout the Caribbean. The United States and Caribbean countries identified three core objectives to deal with the threats facing the Caribbean. These are identified as a reduction in illicit trafficking through programs ranging from counternarcotics to reducing the flow of illegal arms/light weapons; the increase of public safety and security through programs ranging from professionalizing law enforcement institutions through technical assistance and training; and the promotion of social justice through the prevention of criminal activities.