NASSAU, Bahamas – Forty members of the Rhode Island National Guard (RING) participated in a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored joint, multinational and interagency training exercise in the Caribbean, June 4-21, in support of the state’s long-standing partnership with the Bahamas.
The Rhode Island-Bahamas partnership, established in 2005 through the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program (SPP), links the RING with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship to enhance, influence and promote access in the region.
“This exercise provides an opportunity for soldiers and airmen who aren’t deployed to get up to speed and experience new opportunities outside the normal scope of work for a traditional guardsman,” said U.S. Army Maj. Christopher J. Ahlemeyer, a RING international affairs officer and the Rhode Island SPP director. “Getting out from behind a desk allows for broadening of skill and perspective, both as a person and a professional soldier.”
This engagement not only prepares local servicemembers for state and federal recall, it also supports U.S. national security goals and geographic combatant commands and embassy security cooperation objectives. RING and RBDF were matched given their comparable size, focus and mission.
“We’re [RING] the state partner so we want to make sure we have an enduring relationship in place,” said Ahlemeyer. “We provide the consistency [to U.S. Northern and Southern Commands] necessary for mission effectiveness in the region.”
SPP began in 1993 with partnerships between designated state National Guard’s and independent former Soviet republics, in coordination with U.S. European Command. Since then, it has grown significantly, with 74 partnerships across all six geographic combatant commands.
During the exercise, which took place in the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis, RING worked with joint U.S. and partner nation forces to increase regional cooperation in complex multinational security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.
“We provided logistics command and control, a cyber range, cyber and communication teams, and two C-130 aircrafts with pilots and flight crews,” said Ahlemeyer. “We basically oversaw all life-support operations as the main cell lead for [the RBDF] Coral Harbour Base.”
The Caribbean-focused exercise featured a total of 1,700 military and civilian personnel from 22 partner nations.
Nations that participated include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States.