During a press conference held at the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) headquarters in Bridgetown on April 5, Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Vickers, co-director of Tradewinds 2012 exercise announced that the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored event will focus on developing participants’ capacity to conduct maritime interdiction and counter transnational organized crime. Barbados is hosting the 2012 edition of the annual exercise –to be held from June 15-24, for the third time (1992, 2003)–, and expects to include participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. By Dialogo April 18, 2012 At the close of Tradewinds 2011, Major General John M. Croley, commander, Marine Forces South, said, “Over 27 years of Tradewinds, we really like the progress we’ve made to an interagency, joint and combined type training venue providing law enforcement, maritime and ground training.” Tradewinds is one of SOUTHCOM’s multinational joint combined interagency exercises focused on strengthening regional partnerships and collective capabilities that are integral to the security and stability of the Western Hemisphere and to U.S. national security. Recent exercises have been designed to train Caribbean nations for the security requirements needed for major events, according to SOUTHCOM information. “At the end of Exercise Tradewinds 2012, the over 300 military and law enforcement officers from throughout the region who are to participate in the training initiative will be better trained in several areas, including combating transnational organized crime,” said Lt. Col Vickers of the BDF. The exercise falls under SOUTHCOM’s umbrella of security, illegal migration and illicit trafficking exercises designed to improve cooperation, interoperability and operational responses between participating nations to common threats against national, regional and hemispheric security. This year’s participants at the event, “Exercise Tradewinds 2012: Enhancing Regional and Hemispheric Security and Stability” can also expect to learn about conducting security operations from other agencies and external militaries, including the FBI, the U.S. Naval Investigative Service and the Canadian Army Land Force, as both will take part in the Ground Force Tactical Training/Law Enforcement part of the program, reported local Caribbean news portal caribbean360.com.