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News | May 9, 2024

TRADEWINDS 24 begins with opening ceremony

By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed-Cox U.S. Army South Public Affairs

The flags of 26 nations were ceremoniously unfurled at Paragon Army Base, marking the official commencement of TRADEWINDS 24 in Barbados on May 4, 2024.

As they fluttered in the breeze, they created a vibrant presentation of diversity and unity. From the rich hues representing the Caribbean nations to the bold stripes of the United States and the varied colors of Europe, each flag symbolized the commitment of partner nations to collaboration and multilateral relationships.

“As we gather from different nations with diverse backgrounds and experiences, we are united by a common goal to enhance capabilities, strengthen our partnerships and foster cooperation amongst our forces,” said Barbados Defence Force Cmdr. Mark Peterson, exercise co-lead.

TRADEWINDS 24 is nested under Joint Staff-Large Scale Global Exercise 2024. This multinational exercise symbolizes the collective resolve of nations to enhance interoperability, foster collaboration and fortify capacities in the face of evolving security challenges. As the world navigates through an array of complex threats, exercises like TRADEWINDS stand as pillars of strength, preparedness and resilience among participating forces.

“There are significant events occurring across the globe,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Monie Ulis, U.S. Army South deputy commanding general. “Everything you will train on here is based on human rights, the rule of law, and the professionalization of partner militaries. Thus, making our forces adaptable, trained and ready to respond to transboundary challenges.”

Over 1,200 service members from over 26 countries stood shoulder to shoulder setting the stage for a remarkable display of unison and collaboration.

“Let’s not take for granted the level of planning that is required to bring together over 20 like-minded democratic countries and regional organizations to achieve a common purpose,” said Ulis. “This exemplified a shared commitment to strengthen our partnerships and remain united under shared responsibilities as the defenders of common values.”

Echoing this sentiment, Kevin Bostick, U.S. Southern Command J7/9 exercises and coalition director, emphasized the significance of TRADEWINDS 24 in promoting regional stability and security.

“Understanding in this region, yes, you have your own countries and territories that you are responsible for, but we are also responsible for the regional security system that we all continue to provide the defense mechanism that you need to deter threats,” he said. “Defending our shared interest is always number one in what we do.”

TRADEWINDS, a longstanding initiative dating back to 1986. This is Barbados’ third time hosting the exercise and they have consistently demonstrated its capacity to provide a beneficial environment for productive dialogue and collaboration among participating nations.

Commodore Errington Shurland, Barbados Defence Force chief of staff, expressed enthusiasm for the event's return to Barbados for the fourth time.

“We consider it a privilege to welcome our partners to our shores as we join U.S. Southern Command as co-hosts of this iteration of TRADEWINDS,” he said. “The focus of the exercise this year is on foreign military interaction, maritime operations, and field training to support SOUTHCOM’s campaign plan.”

As the ceremony ended, the troops departed, brimming with anticipation for the days ahead. With TRADEWINDS 24 now underway, the stage is set for a period of effective exchange and collaboration as partner nations embark on a shared journey toward prosperity and progress.

“Let us approach this exercise with determination, teamwork, and a spirit of mutual respect,” Peterson said. “Seize the opportunity to enhance our skills, form new friendships, and strengthen our bonds as allies and partners!”