Included in the core of 24 recruits from St. Kitts and Nevis, were two females, who were also the only women participating in the training exercise. Ten other recruits had already returned to St. Kitts ahead of Friday’s graduation ceremony.
The 15 week training, held at the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force’s Camp Blizzard, was completed on Friday, (18th May), and was hosted as the first, in what is expected to be a series of joint training exercises between the two countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, OECS.
Commander of the St Kitts Nevis Defense Force, Lt Col PE Wallace JP, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in Antigua, Baldwin Spencer, along with the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of Police, for Antigua, were also on hand to witness the milestone graduation. Also present at the graduation ceremony were Chief of Staff of the ABDF Col Trevor Thomas.
According to Col Thomas, he and his St Kitts counterpart, Lt. Col Wallace, had been planning the joint training initiative for some time.
“I see no reason not to have joint training between us and St Kitts, and even Montserrat,” he said.
He added that considering the proximity of the territories and the fact that co-operation between them has long been notably strong, initiatives like these could only work out to the benefit of the personnel and the individual nations.
“We are alone up here in this neck of the woods,” he said. “We are at the northern tier and it makes a lot of sense that, particularly in hard times, we train together. We work together, so why not train together? Why not pool our meagre resources together and reap the maximum benefit. This is what it is all about.”
Now that the training is complete, the St. Kitts and Nevis soldiers will return to their home base, where they will move into the trained soldiers course, another six-week long exercise that starts them along the path of becoming professional soldiers.
This aspect of the training exercise must be completed within the individual ports, due to the legal aspects of the exercise that may differ in each country.
The new soldiers and other members of staff from St. Kitts and Nevis are due to return home on Saturday, 19th May, on a coast guard vessel.