San Antonio, TX – Planners from across the region concluded the TRADEWINDS 2024 Scenario Development Conference (SDC) held here, Dec. 5-7.
The three-day planning conference included military planners from the United States, Barbados, and Canada, and interagency partners from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), and Regional Security System (RSS) Department of Defense.
Over 50 personnel began laying the foundation for the Barbados-hosted TRADEWINDS 2024 (TW24), which will take place in the spring.
The regionally oriented exercise will focus on countering threats by way of a Field Training Exercise (FTX), Command Post Exercise (CPX), and Table-Top Exercise (TTX) and involves security forces from over 23 partner nations, primarily from the Caribbean Basin, U.S., Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The Barbados Defense Force (BDF) selected “Preparing the Region for 2024 and Beyond” as the theme for this year’s exercise, emphasizing the importance of avoiding a singular focus.
“We are preparing regional and local entities for the upcoming cricket world cup, but also any possibility that may arise beyond that. So, our vision is wide, our scope is also wide,” said Commander Mark Peterson, BDF lead planner and co-host director of TW24.
“On the regional front, it brings together a pool of individuals who understand each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures, so we can train together as a region so that we understand each other if called upon to respond within the various member states,” reiterated Peterson.
He went on to say this exercise ensures troops are prepared at the individual, team, and strategic levels to prepare for any security threat or humanitarian disaster that may arise in the future.
This U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-executively planned exercise is a combined-joint exercise that requires years of planning in advance, and the SDC is one component of the planning process.
TW24’s Initial Planning Conference took place in September of 2023 in Barbados. While an IPC is focused on operational and administrative site reconnaissance, the SDC’s objective is to refine the scenarios and road-to-crisis.
SOUTHCOM’s scenario manager, Doug Fitzgerald provided instruction on creating a Master Scenario Event List (MSEL) for the TRADEWINDS CPX, FTX, and TTX, inject and scenario development, and measures of success.
“We must determine during this conference the Opposing Force (OPFOR) requirements. How big do we need the OPFOR? At what locations? Also, very important is for all cells and storylines to be synchronized and that they identify their logistical report requirements,” stated Fitzgerald.
He went on to explain the importance of observing the training audience and documenting lessons learned throughout execution.
“We will work with our Regional Observer Assessor Teams (ROAT), who will be out in the field and assess and monitor the flow of the exercise. They will assess whether we are going to fast or slow to ensure the pace of the exercise is proper,” explained Fitzgerald.
“When measuring success, It’s the process and not the product. Meaning we can come to the end of the exercise and find out the training audience did everything wrong, but as long as we find that out, then we can make suggestions on what we can do better next time.”
In July 2023, over 1,500 multinational forces conducted TRADEWINDS 23 in Guyana for third time.