BASE CAMP STEPHENSON, Guyana – After more than a year of planning, the Kentucky National Guard's 75th Troop Command executed the largest U.S.-led multinational training exercise in the Caribbean this year, serving as the headquarters for base camp operations during Tradewinds 2021 June 11-26.
Tradewinds 21 is a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored Caribbean security exercise in the ground, air, sea and cyber domains. U.S. forces and partner nations train to increase regional cooperation and stability.
This year, 12 partner nations attended the 36th iteration of Tradewinds, hosted by Guyana, the only South American country with English as its official language. Nestled between Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela, Guyana offers a vast coastline and terrain that facilitates training.
This was the first time the 75th TC supported SOUTHCOM with joint and multicomponent U.S. forces.
"While we were primarily sourced as the Camp Operations headquarters, 75th TC became SOUTHCOM's go-to unit for everything ranging from strategic mobility, logistical support in-country, to administrative tracking of all forces on ground," said Col. Timothy R. Starke, commander, 75th TC, and director of operations, Kentucky National Guard.
"That kind of responsibility required leaders and Soldiers to operate independently, think critically, and innovate to solve problems in order to make all of our partners successful," he said.
Enter Maj. Eric Green, the 75th TC logistics and contracting officer during Tradewinds.
Green and the 75th TC staff planned for Tradewinds 21 to be in Barbados, but the host nation changed to Guyana late in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As the mission changed location, Army Southern Command was very helpful in explaining and facilitating the process for Tradewinds, from adjusting for the number of participants, infrastructure, mobility, communications, environmental considerations, climate, and other variables," he said. "And as a result, set the 75th TC up for success from the start."
The 75th TC headquarters operated out of Camp Stephenson and supported personnel across the entire area of training operations.
They worked alongside their host partner, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), and tenant units; 305th Minimal Care Unit (U.S. Army Reserve), 714th Quartermaster Company, water purification, field feeding (Puerto Rico National Guard), 735th Quartermaster Company, shower and laundry (Missouri National Guard), 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade and Bravo Company 1-85th Assault Helicopter Battalion (Florida National Guard), and 7th Special Forces Group (U.S. Army Active).
All participating forces followed COVID-19 protocols, and there were no positive cases from all personnel.
Starke praised his staff and the Guyanese people.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Rowan and I knew that we had an amazing brigade full of superb Soldiers, but our success during Tradewinds demonstrated how truly versatile, adaptable and proficient our troops are," he said.
"The warmth, hospitality, diversity, and culture of the [Guyanese] people, the professionalism of the Guyana Defence Force, and the beauty of the 'Land of Many Waters' have all made deep and lasting impacts on our Soldiers. I am incredibly grateful that our Soldiers, and I personally, had the opportunity to experience Guyana," he said.