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By Lisa Hamilton
Members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) are making the most of Tradewinds 2021 (TW21) hosted in Guyana this year in collaboration with military representatives from the United States and 23 partner nations.
On Friday, the media was permitted to visit Base Camp Stephenson to observe some of the training and interview participants. At Air Station London, Timehri, they met Staff Sergeant Matthew Giorgio representing the Florida Army National Guard.
Though he is a Senior Crew Chief and Helicopter Mechanic, the main part of his responsibility while in Guyana was to provide medical casualty evacuation and training in the same. It resulted in coordination between US medical facilities and local medical facilities and training with regards to treating and prioritizing patients.
The Staff Sergeant also helped to train Guyanese participants on how to work with coalition forces in the case that such collaboration is ever needed.
“It’s been a very broadening experience for me. I’ve done several different tours of combat and various tours of duty overseas but this is the first time I’ve been able to experience their culture and their thinking and it allowed me to share the way I work and the way I operate,” he said. Sergeant Giorgio is also part of B Company, 1-185th Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB).
Meanwhile, GDF Lieutenant and helicopter pilot, Dwight Bonus was responsible for providing air liaison and ensuring safe operations for all aerial activities in collaboration with the visiting military. He was also responsible for coordinating movement between the local participants in relation to helicopter operations.
Speaking with the media, he underscored the value of the training exercises as beneficial to himself and many others. “Partnership with other nations is very important because in situations or in natural disasters when you’d need coordination among the nations, it would not be something strange for the troops because they would have had interactions with persons from other nations, they would know how they operate. They would know how to synchronize with them and synchronization is very important.”
Some of the training exercises he listed were helocasting operations, which is an airborne technique used for amphibious insertion into a military area of operation; and hoisting operations, which is important for search and rescue or recovery operations. Meanwhile, he noted that para trooping was also on the schedule.
Also in Guyana was Guyanese-born US Army Staff Sergeant Lerone Simmons who was appreciative of the opportunity to return home to participate in Tradewinds 2021. Sergeant Simmons grew up in South Ruimveldt Gardens and attended the South Ruimveldt Primary School and Saint Joseph High.
He left Guyana at age 12 and has been part of the US Army for 11 years. Though he has visited his family in Guyana prior, he said that visiting in his current capacity was a different experience. He said he was excited to participate in the exercises which would help to make Guyana and other countries in the Region more secure and would allow for an exchange of information between all participants.
“It’s very special for me to be able to come back and train with the GDF and all the other partners here because it shows the capability of all of us working on one accord, and that we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to,” he said.
Sergeant Simmons added: “It’s personal for me because I never thought I’d be back here in this capacity, wearing the US uniform but I think it goes to show that the world is only as big as you make it.”
At Camp Stephenson and elsewhere around the country, GPF and GDF ranks were also given the opportunity to improve their rifle marksmanship through Quarter Marksmanship/Close Quarter Battle (CQM/CQB) training. Other ongoing trainings include para trooping, ropelling and house clearing.
The exercises will conclude later this month. All training locations provide opportunities to conduct joint, combined, and interagency partner nation capacity building focused on increasing regional cooperation in complex multinational security operations, as well as in humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.