Coast Guard, Army CBSI-Taft participate in Tradewinds 2016

U.S. Coast Guard and partner nation Coast Guard members complete boat checks June 7, 2016 in St. George's, Grenada, as part of Tradewinds 2016. Tradewinds 2016 is a joint combined exercise conducted in conjunction with partner nations to enhance the collective abilities of defense forces and constabularies to counter transnational organized crime and to conduct humanitarian/disaster relief operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

U.S. Coast Guard and partner nation Coast Guard members complete boat checks June 7, 2016 in St. George’s, Grenada, as part of Tradewinds 2016.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Technical Assistance Field Team is participating in Exercise Tradewinds 2016, a multi-national maritime security and disaster response exercise in the Caribbean June 5 through June 14, 2016, in St. George’s, Grenada.

The CBSI-TAFT is a Department of State funded, joint U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army team operating under the tactical control of U.S. Southern Command since 2013.

The team is comprised of nine U.S. Coast Guard and six U.S. Army engineers and logisticians whose focus is to build defense institutions that assist with maintenance and logistics efforts, with particular focus to improve the operational readiness of 13 Caribbean maritime forces through technical assistance visits. CBSI-TAFT focuses solely on maritime interceptor craft, a style of vessels usually less than 65 feet in length and are able to sustain high speeds for extended periods of time.

“This team started as an idea; a concept to institute robust mission support with Caribbean partner nations. The most common operational degrader is lack of a robust mission support, which ultimately prevents assets from being operationally effective. When you have limited mission support, assets are less likely to be maintained, and if you don’t have the additional logistics train behind it, assets will simply not get underway and are therefore unable to do their mission,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Plumley, officer in charge of the TAFT. “The U.S. Coast Guard is heavily involved, because in the Caribbean region, a nation’s Coast Guard maintains a large jurisdictional presence, bringing credibility to the service. It allows us to share military experiences and advice over common operating restraints. The U.S. Army component of our team is very involved with watercraft mission support, and they bolster the team’s defense force perspective.”

Plumley said he and his team are enthusiastic participants in Exercise Tradewinds 2016, because they already have excellent working relationships with the countries participating.

“We have extensive cooperation with all the partner nations here at Tradewinds. We are very integrated with them and building relationships with our partner nations is very important to our team,” he said. “Secondly, if you look at the combined small boat fleet here, they’re all 33-foot SAFE Boats, full-cabin, triple outboards, which is the same platform we use in the U.S. Coast Guard. So by helping here in Tradewinds, we ensure the greatest operational availability of these boats to participate in the exercise. We make sure the exercise is successful.”

He said the training here is necessary for a joint theater response, too.

“What we’re doing here at Tradewinds is strengthening our nation by strengthening our neighbors, and it emphasizes the impact we have on the region,” said Plumley. “We spend much of our time in the Coast Guard combating organized crime, and by working in a joint environment we engage the partner nations to participate as well, and they gain ownership in the efforts.”

Plumley also said the Coast Guard’s involvement with TAFT is critically important for a number of reasons.

“First, it’s important because it emphasizes the Commandant’s Western Hemisphere Strategy. Secondly, it makes sure our allies and partner nations can respond similarly as the U.S. Coast Guard does. By doing that, it helps the entire region,” he said. “We are not alone in the United States, and it’s important we work together to combat the issues our nations deal with. When we all work together for a common cause, it has a greater security impact on the entire region.”

Exercise Tradewinds supports the CBSI, a U.S. Department of State regional security partnership. Phase I and II are designed to conduct joint, interagency capacity building exercises for participating nations. Those exercises focus on increasing regional cooperation in complex, multinational security operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations.

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