NEWS | Dec. 17, 2012

Delaware National Guard hosts Trinidad and Tobago for a critical-infrastructure protection conference

By Sgt. Wendy McDougall Delaware National Guard

SMYRNA, Del. - The Delaware National Guard hosted its state partner, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, for a conference Dec. 11 on critical infrastructure protection, focusing on the energy sector.

The conference included representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the State Police and others.

The conference focus was to bring together the various agencies and let them discuss their roles and approaches to security, along with how they respond to threats against critical infrastructure. Through an open dialog and many questions asked by the representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, the partnerships between Delaware’s agencies became apparent.

“I think through our tours and discussions today we certainly learned the value of enhancing partnerships,” said Kurt Reuther, Homeland Security Advisor. “That is really what is going to make homeland security programs work in both our countries. The partnerships are really where the rubber hits the road and where we are going to have success.”

The highlight of the conference was a boat tour of the Delaware River, with stops at the Port of Wilmington and the Delaware City Refining Company. While at the Port of Wilmington, attendees were given an overview of how the Port manages security and responds to threats. At the Delaware City Refining Company, a bus tour was given of the facility with particular focus on how they monitor such a large area that has multiple access points and employees from various companies on site.

Col. Rodney Smart, Chair of Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Sector Security Initiative said, “with the education we’ve been given today, we are going to take back some of this and it’s going to help us improve the security of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, the energy security that we offer the rest of the world.”

Because of the many similarities between Delaware and Trinidad and Tobago, the seven-year partnership has been a prosperous one. The Delaware National Guard continues to foster and enhance its relationship with its state partner, making several visits a year to Trinidad and Tobago, as well as, hosting leaders and dignitaries from there.

“We have developed such strong, strong relations with the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and their defense forces, it’s just magnificent the exchanges that we’ve been able to make, in a wide variety of different areas,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard. “I can’t say enough about the value of this great state partnership with Trinidad and Tobago.”

Conferences like this are beneficial because not only are they building the state to country partnership, but also the partnerships between interstate agencies. While each agency has its own mission, there are instances when those missions can come together and benefit the entire state.