News Release: CAMP SEWEYO, Guyana – Troops from Bermuda are strengthening partnerships while they train with other countries during TRADEWINDS23 in Guyana.
Dozens of Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers have been joined by members of the Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment, the Suriname National Army and the Jamaica Defence Force in exercises at Camp Seweyo.
Information about weapons systems and operating practices is swapped among the multinational force during working hours but the trades continue later when cultural exchanges take place.
Private Audley Millings, a delivery driver and RBR soldier, said: “We all feel comfortable around each other. We help them out, they help us.”
The 20-year-old, of Smith’s, added: “The Guyanese people are friendly as well; they like dancehall and reggae. After hours they bring out their table, we play dominoes and cards, they teach us games. In the downtime all of us – from different countries – play music.”
Marine Arthrivia Russell, of the TCI Regiment, loves the opportunities that come with being part of the battalion, such as traveling and engaging with different cultures.
TRADEWINDS is a US SOUTHCOM-sponsored combined, Caribbean-focused exercise designed to expand the region’s ability to mitigate, plan for and respond tocrises as well as to increase regional training capacity and interoperability.
Another objective is to fully integrate women into forces.
Mne Russell, 25, said: “This allows me to show other girls back home that we canhave great opportunities: you should join, you get to travel the world. We’re learning different ways to fire weapons, even maybe one day we’ll have the chanceto parachute. It’s a great experience for me.”
Marine Kylon Gravely, a fellow TCI Regiment member, said he arrived in Guyana with an open mind.
“It’s a different kind of experience,” he added. “A different kind of lifestyle than what I’m used to.”
He continued: “All the other troops are just what I expected – we’re all soldiers, we all get along.”
Members of the Suriname National Army said that opportunities for their organisation to work with other nations were rare, but soldiers “love” to do so when they have the chance.
One added: “It’s good shared knowledge.”
Lance Corporal Christopher McGrath, a 25-year-old with the Jamaica Defence Force, described TRADEWINDS as “excellent”.
He said: “I’m learning a lot; getting tactical experiences and getting to work with other countries.”
LCpl McGrath added: “You get to understand their way of operation, how their regiment works.”
The RBR’s Lance Corporal Ashley Grant, of St George’s, is giving instruction on the arduous Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officers cadre for the first time.
She said: “So far, so good. I’m still getting down the teaching mechanisms, so it’s still a learning process for me but it’s all a good experience. It’s going to help to develop me as a person and as a soldier.”
LCpl Grant, a 32-year-old front desk agent at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort, added: “Even just doing regular, basic drills we find that each country does things slightly differently, so it’s nice to integrate everything and just try to see each different way to operate – there is no ‘one way’ to do things. There has been good diversity.”
Two years into her military career, LCpl Grant believes she is “locked in”.
She added: “There is a good support team that helps. Even when you’re unsure, you don’t feel a certain way about yourself, you always have that support to be pushing further.”
Acting Sergeant McLaren Smith, the PJNCO platoon sergeant and a dairy farm owner, said Camp Seweyo provided opportunities for the group to work with more space than they would have at Warwick Camp.
He explained: “The training areas are a lot bigger, so we can actually navigate; andthe ranges are bigger, so we can really plan our weapons drills and put them to use.”
Reflecting on the role of women in the military, Sgt Smith said the Royal Bermuda Regiment was well-used to having women in operational roles. He added: “Everyone carries their own weight and everyone’s required to.”