CAMP SEWEYO, Guyana - The Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program has fostered enduring relationships with partner countries since 1993. The Florida National Guard’s partnership with Guyana, which began in 2003, embodies this global effort to improve interoperability, enhance access and influence, and increase readiness.
The Florida-Guyana partnership expanded in 2006 to include Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent, increasing their capabilities to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
For example, in 2013, when the Florida National Guard recognized a communication capability gap during hurricanes and natural disasters, it worked with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and St. Augustine Beach Police to facilitate the donation of about $1 million in communications equipment to their partner forces.
Tradewinds 2023 is the latest opportunity for the Florida National Guard to engage with over 200 partner nation force service members from 21 countries. Guyana is hosting the multinational military exercise in the Caribbean, conducting bilateral engagements to increase cross-cultural, technical, and tactical interoperability between Florida, Guyana and the Regional Security System nations.
An essential part of these engagements involves Florida National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade. SFABs are the Army’s dedicated organizations for conducting security force assistance worldwide. They increase interoperability between U.S. and partner nation forces and build trust and confidence.
“As far as SFAB and SPP, it also coincides with creating that enduring partnership and friendship,” said Capt. Rick Guerrero, commander of the 54th SFAB. “It’s becoming and sustaining that premier partnership of choice to increase interoperability for us [SFAB] and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).”
Lance Corporal Juda Holda, Guyana Defence Force, who had just practiced transition shooting drills at a live-fire range, said: “It’s a privilege to be here to exchange knowledge because I now understand how we do things is different from how the Americans do things, such as shooting techniques, ambushing and room clearing. So I’m thankful for this exchange and knowledge. This exercise [Tradewinds 2023] offers an invaluable opportunity for our forces to engage with and learn from a world-class organization like the SFAB.”
Another GDF soldier, Pvt. Garwin Blair, said he learned new breathing techniques on the range to make his shot groups more accurate.
“The training is amazing,” Blair said. “I believe that when we learn new stuff that we didn’t really know before, like breathing techniques, (it) will help us be better soldiers. I think it’s great that we all get together to train. It’s a great experience.”