Service members from 23 countries including Mexico, the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Colombia, and Brazil gathered for the second time in Belize to plan the TRADEWINDS 2022 exercise.
Led by U.S. Southern Command, the 37th iteration of this international exercise helps the U.S.’s efforts to strengthen relationships with its partner nations. The two-week Caribbean based event focuses on Counter Transnational Criminal Organization and Counter Violent Extremist Organization activities while enhancing regional collaboration, stability, and response effectiveness to security threats. TW22 supports key bilateral military Security Cooperation objectives supporting greater domain awareness and domain control in the maritime, air, and cyber domains.
“Exercise TRADEWINDS enables our Belize Defence Force to effectively conduct joint operations with Mexico, the United States and 20 partner nations,” said Maj V. Briceno, Belize Defense Force, Exercise TRADEWINDS 2022 Lead Planner. “Together, through capacity building and multinational partnerships, we can deter illegal activities and reinforce security in Belize, the Caribbean region, and beyond.”
A joint team of more than 100 individuals are coordinating this massive exercise, which requires numerous planning sessions and pre-positioned agreements by all participating countries so that operations can unfold seamlessly in the area.
“Normally, we start planning for exercises with the Joint Event Life Cycle (JELC). The JELC is currently around 10 to 11 months,” said Capt. Ben Leger, G7-TREX Exercise Planner for U.S. Army South. “In the next few years, we are shifting to extend that to 14 to 16 months. This would overlap the TRADEWINDS’ exercise training years. This would benefit training and exercise staff by having more time to plan exercises.”
Units from all branches of the military from the United States and partner nations will be operating in both Belize and Mexico throughout the two-week event. Scenarios focus on various operations including foreign military interaction, maritime interdiction, and ground security. The intent of TRADEWINDS is to refine the Caribbean Community Standard Operating Procedures while enhancing regional collaboration, stability, and response effectiveness to crisis but reasons for participating in the exercise varies for each country.
Mexico’s Navy has been participating in the TRADEWINDS exercise for almost a decade. Each year they have increased their involvement and will be a co-host nation for the first time in 2022. The Mexican military’s co-hosting of TW22 demonstrates Mexico’s continued leadership in expanding regional defense cooperation and improving regional security. A strong US-MEXICO defense partnership is vital to defending North America against a myriad of threats and countering shared challenges.
“This will be the first time for Mexico to receive, in its territory and waters, international military and security forces partners to train together in a multinational exercise,” said Commander Fernando Jerezano, Mexico’s lead planner for naval training. “For us, this is a great opportunity to show to the partner nations our competency and professionalism to host, organize and lead a planning collaborative effort to execute security and protection operations, maritime law enforcement, and Humanitarian Assistance and Domestic Response Ops.”
Jerezano explained that Mexico’s goal is to continue being “a trusted maritime-military partner, and to boost its presence in the Caribbean region as a notable actor committed to countering the main security threats.”
The TRADEWINDS exercise is not just for countries located in the Caribbean. The exercise enhances regional and hemispheric coordination for international support to disasters and has global implications in interoperability training and preparation as they relate to potential terrorist threats in the Caribbean region.
“Participation in Exercise TRADEWINDS 2022 enhances the Canadian Armed Force’s ability to operate with key partners, contributes to stability in an evolving security environment, and demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to the Latin America and Caribbean region,” explained Captain Véronique Sabourin, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs Officer. “International exercises like TRADEWINDS develop skills and procedures that enhance interoperability, readiness, crisis response capabilities and communication between partner nations.”