Tradewinds Takes Media To The Sea For Maritime Training
Last night, we showed you how the Belize Defence Force took the media on a helicopter ride to see the jungle training being offered to their counterparts who are participating in Exercise Tradewinds 2022.
Well, today, it was the Belize Coast Guard which invited the press to observe the maritime training taking place between them and their Tradewinds counterparts inside the Turneffe Atoll.
Our Daniel Ortiz and cameraman Angel Noble were embedded with sailors from all across the Caribbean for most of the day, and here is their report:
For this year's Exercise Tradewinds Initiative, the maritime military forces of all 22 partner nations are based out at the Turneffe Atoll, more specifically at the Belize Dive Haven Resort.
For the last few days, this sprawling 4-story facility and its amenities have been available to all the military personnel of the participating countries. If it were not for all the battle dress uniforms of the different countries, this summit would have resembled a luxurious vacation outing; marred only by the lingering stench of rotting sargassum on the Dive Haven's beach areas.
But, these officers are here to train, network and share professional experiences and best practices. We even found them breaking bread together and enjoying each others' company during the lunch hour.
It's all part of the bigger plan of allowing these allied coast guard units to become better teammates when interacting in the field in real-time.
Lt. Commander Roque Canul - OIC, Service & Support, Belize Coast Guard
"The Tradewinds Exercise is a multidimensional exercise, and it covers land, air, and sea operations. What we are going to see today is what is happening on the maritime side of the overall exercise. So, out there, you will be able to see what you guys learned or reviewed in the past couple of days when it comes to small boat handling and maritime law enforcement."
Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Morrison - Maritime Enforcement Specialist, US Coast Guard
"Overall for trade winds, we're out here trying to share best practices."
Lt. Commander Roque Canul
"At the same time, our guys get to know the people. They established a network with our other partners and participants. So that is great for us."
The organizers have a Maritime Operating Center set up at the Belize Dive Haven as part of their training regimen. The on-duty personnel is the intermediary between the officers in training and the military leadership of all the participating nations. This provides the officers with insight into the communication that takes place within the chain of Belize's operational command.
Lt. Jr. Grade Allen Armstrong - Member, Belize Coast Guard
"We are at the Maritime Operations Center, which we call a MOC for Tradewinds. The Maritime Operation Center is basically somewhat a radio room, where we relay information to the CTF, the command task force that is the Price Barracks. So any activities that take place on the small boats that you will get a tour, after this, at every one time, we have personnel working shifts on the basis of every 2 hours rotation. The purpose behind the two-hour shift is because we want everyone not to work here in the MOC because we have 21 personnel working in the MOC from all different countries. The purpose of this is to have different personnel work along with each other, to get a feel of how we here in Belize do our radio communication because, of course, that is the purpose of trade winds to get and understand how all Caribbean partner nations work or can be better at working together."
One of the training highlights for the maritime forces is the simulation involving the interdiction of cocaine traffickers at sea.
While on that mission, the press got a rare sighting of a friendly pod of 5 dolphins which came over to investigate the source of all the commotion in their marine habitat.
For today's demonstration, some of the sailors played the part of the fleeing narcos, while the others set chase as the enforcement team. In this exercise, they were practicing proper boarding techniques, thorough searching to discover all of those crafty hiding spots for drugs, and the professionalism needed to de-escalate tensions in this hostile environment.
Dale Guzman - Petty Officer Class 3, Belize Coast Guard
"Well, based on Intel, we came out here searching for two known vessels that were trafficking drugs. Our team boarded the vessel, searched the vessel, and first, the guys asked them their nationality and where they were traveling from. And yeah, they seem to come up on drugs on the vessels. So, they arrested the guys."
"With the ending, we have some culminating exercises that kind of give some activities that may not normally be seen by the local law enforcement teams. So, one of those scenarios is having multiple assets approach multiple different targets of interest, conduct a boarding during their routine patrol, and then implement those best practices to improve their law enforcement training experience."
Petty Officer Dale Guzman
"What we have learned from the U.S. is that usually, when they board vessels, it's really huge vessels. And, the vessels here in Belize City are usually skiffs, small skiffs. So, the training has really shown us where to search along these large vessels, because with a skiff, we can see inside and we see everything. It doesn't have compartments, the majority of the boats here, or in the country of Belize, rather."
Lt. Commander Roque Canul
"These guys are taught how to board boats, how to search on, you know, conduct the maritime law enforcement part of the exercise."
"We try to make it as real as possible, right. These operators have a lot of professionalism. So, they know how to handle themselves and how to de-escalate a situation. Ultimately, you don't want to create a hostile situation in an environment that doesn't need it. But the professionalism that's already shown by the Belize Coast Guard is above par than we needed to train.. So, what we talked about most is effective communication, and implementing different communication tactics, talking back to the base, passing all the information needed so that when they are at the completion of their boarding, they have some way to have the disposition of the vessel and crew when they get done. And that's been a big addition, I think, is the communication piece. But, a lot of confidence-building and teamwork and camaraderie as well have been built in the past two weeks."
Lt. Commander Roque Canul
"It is great for us as a country and as an organization because we get to see how our countries are doing things and doing business. You know, it's a lot of - the difference may not be big, but we see how other people, other countries do best practices."
We understand that a major simulation is supposed to occur tomorrow in Belmopan.
Trade Winds 2022 Maritime Training
Last night we showed a few of the training exercises our Belize Defense Force Soldiers have been engaged in on land and in the air during Trade Winds 2022. Tonight, we take you offshore where the Belize Coast Guard, along with its counterparts from twenty-two countries, has been training for the past two weeks. These seamen have been sharpening their small boat maneuvering and interception skills within the Turneffe Reef Atoll. Today, they conducted a demonstration of some of the skills they acquired of the course of the training. News Five’s Paul Lopez filed the following report.
Paul Lopez, Reporting
Dive Haven Resort, located in the Turneffe Reef Atoll, is the base for the maritime aspect of Trade Wind 2022. Coast guard officers from twenty-two countries have been training within the atoll for the past two weeks.
Lt. Roque Canul, Servicing Support Group, Belize Coast Guard
“The Trade Winds exercise is a multidimensional exercise. It covers land, air and sea operations. What we are going to see today is what is happening on the maritime side of the overall exercise. So, out there we will be able to see what the guys learned or reviewed in the past few days when it comes to small boat handling or maritime law enforcement. You will be able to see boat handling of which we are experts of. Those are the capabilities that Belize has, small boats and also the maritime law enforcement side of it where these guys are thought how to board boats, search and conduct that maritime law enforcement part of the exercise.”
A temporary maritime operations center has been established on the fourth floor of the resort. The officers operating the center are tasked with relaying information from the field
to their commanding officers.
Lt. Allen Armstrong, Belize Coast Guard
“The Maritime Operations Center, MOC for short, is basically a radio room where we relay information to the CTF, the command task force that is at the Price Barracks. So, any activities that take place on the small boats, that you will get a tour of after this, you guys will then proceed and see how the MOC operates and hear how the MOC operates whereby we relay messages to our higher command from this operations center. Here at the MOC we basically log down every information that is passed on from the small boats to our higher. At everyone time we have three personnel working shifts on a basis of every two hours rotation. So, we usually man this post from eight in the morning until sixteen hundred, which is four in the afternoon.”
Today, several teams of officers were out conducting rehearsals for Thursday’s culmination day exercise. In this mock scenario, the coast guard vessel received intelligence of a vessel carrying suspected narcotics. The coast guard vessel then set chase after the suspected traffickers. They then carried out the established protocols for boarding and searching a vessel.
PO Dale Guzman, Belize Coast Guard
“Based on intel, we came out here searching for the two known vessels that were trafficking drugs. Our team boarded the vessel, searched the vessel, and frisked the guys, asked them their nationality, where they were travelling from, and they seem to come up on drugs and weapons on the vessel, so they arrested the guys, detained them, informed them they were taking them to keep them under arrest due to the suspicious drugs they found on the vessel.”
Tyler Morrison, Maritime Enforcement Specialist, U.S. Coast Guard
“For Trade Winds we are out here trying to share best practices. With the ending we have some culminating exercises that kind of give some activities that may not normally be seen by the local law enforcement teams. One of those scenarios is having multiple assets approach multiple targets of interest, conduct a boarding during the routine patrol, and implement best practices to improve their law enforcement training experience.”
Coast Guard engineers are also benefiting from a two-week engineering course that has yielded positive results.
Lt. Roque Canul
“These guys are doing an excellent job. We have some very good instructed who are assisting us with bringing out some engines we had down for a couple of months. But this is the essence of that engineer tract, to have it for these guys to practice on. The beauty of it, they will see what they achieved at the end of Trade Winds. They took an engine that is unserviceable, and within two weeks you have three, six, nine engines, that you can say this is what we achieved. This is what we have as a result of training.”
Trade Wind 2022 officially comes to a close on Friday. Across the country tomorrow, culminating exercises will be held at the various training sites.