RSS Forces Set to Defend Regional Borders

By VOICE Reporter
Lt. Colonel Roberto Beltran – RSS UNEX’24 Exercise Director

As part of the UNEX’24 military drills, the culminating event featured a joint international counter terrorism operation.

Recently, (according to reports), troops on the ground acted upon intelligence reports of suspected safe houses, which led them to the confirmation of known criminal vessels headed towards Martinique.

The Gendarmerie de la Martinique was then informed and immediately responded by sending a helicopter to support the interception operation between Saint Lucia and Martinique.

The RSS officials view this collaboration, as a true testament of regional and international security cooperation.

Lt. Colonel Roberto Beltran, a Belizean national, was tasked with duties as the Exercise Director of the Unity Exercise-UNEX’24. He spoke to reporters briefly about the magnitude and significance of the exercises at last week’s closing ceremony at the Saab Playing Field.

“The exercise was all about practising the mobilization of the Regional Security System (RSS) … that is made up of eight-member states (of) which Saint Lucia is a member state and those countries need to support each other,” said Beltran.

Colonel Beltran further explained there exists an RSS Treaty “that indicates, in the event of security issues and member states request assistance, then the other seven-member states would mobilize to support.”

He reiterated that the UNEX’24 session, which was held here recently… focused on “countering terrorism and countering trans-national organized crime…while employing forces in a mass crowd event.”

Despite some “minor challenges”, he said “the planning and preparation was done extensively and I received support from the Royal St Lucia Police Force and all its agencies in Saint Lucia, as well as the RSS Headquarters and all the other member states.”

Beltran added that the officers came together “virtually or in a planning conference” for months and over a year to plan these exercises. “So the challenges were very minor. There were some issues …on the ground where a few people did not know there would be an exercise in the area. Hence the reason why the host nation Saint Lucia made all attempts to inform the public about it,” he said.

After a 17-year break, the maneuvers were slightly upgraded. He said that the previous operations undertaken by RSS mainly involved “humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as some security operations.”

The RSS commander says this latter exercise “came at an opportune time” with primary focus on countering terrorism and trans-national crime “as we saw that the possibility across the world does exists for these operations to be used…and as much as we’re not seeing terrorism in the region, we would like to be prepared.”

Did the RSS operations boost the morale of regional officers in preparing to take on the challenges that lie ahead?

“Most of these soldiers and police officers have not met each other … until they came to the staging process in Barbados and then they all came here to Saint Lucia during the deployment,” he explained.

“So, when they got together, it forced them to operate together. They eventually became a unit and they were operating as a unit,” declared Colonel Beltran. “So I think this really assisted the region to be better prepared for security operations.”

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