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Stakeholders Promote UNEX 24 as Catalyst for Safer Caribbean

A major collaborative effort among regional security forces and international agencies resulted in Saint Lucia successfully hosting the Regional Security System (RSS) Unity Exercise (UNEX 24).

The exercise, which ran from April 3 to 12, was implemented under the RSS 11th European Development Fund project in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the Government of Saint Lucia.

More than 200 military and police officials were involved in the UNEX 24 military exercises, which also included land-based maneuvers and sea operations. The activities of UNEX ’24 were spread across Castries, Gros Islet, and Vieux Fort.

The activity aims to improve mechanisms for regional cooperation within the RSS in response to security issues. The exercise drills involved drug trafficking, terrorism, and other threats to border security.

Attorney General Leslie Mondesir underscored the significance of this exercise, particularly as the region and the wider world confront issues relating to crime and national security.

“Our countries can only become stronger as a result of your dedication and service for a more integrated and safer Caribbean region,” he told the gathering at Friday’s closing ceremony, held at the Saab Playing Field.

He said though the region is adorned with “its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultures and warm personalities”, nonetheless, “it is not immune to the challenges that plague the world.”

Mondesir noted: “As the perpetrators of both white-collar crime and blue-collar crime become more sophisticated in their criminality, so too, must our security agencies strengthen their networks and responses to these threats.”

“The inter-connectedness of our nations demand that coordinated efforts become the bedrock of our systems to allow for the seamless sharing of intel and response mechanisms,” he continued.

Mondesir told the officers, “Your duty to your country and the region provided the enabling environment within which our societies can thrive and prosper.
“The dreams and aspirations of younger generations rely on the security and stability of our region as a zone for peace.”

Commissioner of Police (COP) Crusita Descartes-Pelius commended the forces for executing a thorough and efficient exercise. She underlined the input of entities, such as the RSS, Canada, the United Nations (UN), USA, Martinique, the EU, and host country Saint Lucia.

RSS officers participate in military drills at closing ceremony

According to the COP, reports indicate that the exercise undertaken by the troops both on land and at sea was quite rewarding. She said the exercise served to validate the Regional Security System’s plan and the joint task force operations, and to standardize the management of reports and staff duties.

Referring to the UNEX 24 military exercises, Descartes-Polius declared: “We have demonstrated the commitment and dedication in preparing our officers to deal with the magnitude of threats ahead of us, whether it is as a result of climate change, trans-national organized crime or terrorism.”

She urged the authorities to sustain this regional training structure, so that “we will see a better response to the scourge of crime and violence, (and) better collaboration among member states and stakeholders as we continue to build capacity, secure our borders and to ensure the safety and security of our citizens in the region and visitors as well.”

Deputy Executive Director at the RSS Headquarters, Graham Archer, cited the meticulous preparations put on by officers and related agencies within the host country.

He noted that after a 17-year hiatus, UNEX 24 was effectively executed.

“At the commencement, in 2001, UNEX adopted a primary aim of its predecessors to asses the capability of RSS troops and the RSS Joint Task Force,” Archer said.

The RSS official stated the exercise helped “to train personnel from the member states to work together seamlessly and functionally.”

Alessandro Tedesco, Attaché- Security, Justice & Human Rights of the EU delegation, noted that RSS has been actively involved in carrying out its duties.

He said over the years, the RSS has demonstrated its ability “to tackle new challenges, by redrafting strategies and methods”, which includes reaching out to external partners.

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