Exercise TRADEWINDS is a multinational maritime interdiction, ground security and interagency exercise led by the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). It focuses on countering transnational organized crime and practicing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) in order to promote regional security cooperation.


TRADEWINDS is USSOUTHCOM’s key exercise activity in the Caribbean. The exercise is designed to promote regional security and cooperation initiatives, such as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. It offers both Canada and the U.S. a unique activity to build on and synchronize national initiatives in the region. 

Canada’s Objectives

Exercise TRADEWINDS provides an important opportunity for the CAF to strengthen defence relationships between partner nations for civilian government-led disaster response efforts by:

  • supporting the development of capabilities in humanitarian operations and disaster relief; and
  • promoting regional efforts to mitigate the effects of, plan for, and respond to disasters.

Exercise TRADEWINDS also strengthens regional defence capacities to address threats to security and stability in the Caribbean by:

  • leveraging bilateral and multilateral defence relationships as a foundation for future initiatives;
  • supporting the development of capabilities and interaction of regional partners' defence and security efforts, including maritime interdiction capabilities;
  • improving information sharing, particularly in aerial and maritime domain awareness; and
  • supporting the development, procurement and deployment of assets that align with partners' needs, operational capacity, and maintenance and sustainment ability.


Canada is committed to ensuring the safety and prosperity of North America and the Western Hemisphere. Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas is focused on:

  • addressing insecurity;
  • advancing freedom, democracy and the rule of law;
  • increasing economic opportunity; and
  • building a stable foundation for Canada’s engagement.

Vibrant regional partnerships are essential for reaching these objectives and addressing the range of security and defence issues in the Caribbean region.

The Area

Caribbean states, located along major maritime illicit trafficking routes to both North America and Europe, have been particularly vulnerable to the activities of transnational criminal organizations. Natural disasters are also a frequent threat and regional integration remains limited even though most Caribbean countries are members of cooperative security organizations.

Due to these factors, external actors such as Canada and the U.S. have been regularly called to the Caribbean region in times of crisis to assist, expand international cooperation, and build regional capacity.

The Caribbean region is a hub of international activity and has great importance for international commerce. While not extremely large, the region requires international cooperation to monitor the area and meet its unique challenges. The Caribbean Sea remains an important area of Canadian interest as it is host to a significant volume of Canadian trade and tourism.

Past deployments


Exercise TRADEWINDS 2017

Exercise TRADEWINDS 17 took place from June 6 to 17, 2017. It was held in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

In total, the CAF sent about 90 soldiers and sailors. These included:

  • Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Kingston, a maritime coastal defence vessel;
  • a diver training team from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic); and
  • two six-person Canadian Army contingents from the 2nd and 5th  Canadian Divisions.

A joint CAF and Global Affairs Canada disaster assessment team also deployed. The team trained in responding to humanitarian crises.

During this exercise, 20 nations trained to respond to:

  • natural disasters;
  • terrorism; and
  • organized crime that crosses national borders.

Exercise TRADEWINDS 2016

Exercise TRADEWINDS 16 took place during two distinct phases running from June 5 to 14, 2016, in Grenada, and from June 20 to 28, 2016, in Jamaica. The exercise involved ships, aircraft and personnel from more than 20 participant nations and several key regional organizations.

The CAF’s contribution to the exercise included:

A Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) (FDU(A)) team, which provided dive training to partner nations;

HMCS Shawinigan, which trained partner nations in first aid, weapons, firefighting/damage control, and participated in a task group to focus on tactics and procedures for tracking, intercepting, and boarding suspect vehicles. It was also a platform for FDU(A) dive training; and

Approximately 30 members from the Canadian Army, primarily from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton, Alberta, who helped develop training in live-fire ranges, simulated urban operations training, and command and control mentorship in a joint operational headquarters.

Further, to support the second phase of the exercise in Jamaica, the CAF activated their Operational Support Hub for the Latin American and the Caribbean region for the first time.


Exercise TRADEWINDS 2015

Exercise TRADEWINDS 15 included two distinct phases running from 31 May to 9 June in St. Kitts & Nevis, and from 15-24 June in Belize. The exercise involved ships, aircraft and personnel from 19 nations and key regional organizations.

The CAF contribution to Exercise TRADEWINDS 15 consisted of:

HMCS Glace Bay training regional partners in areas such as firefighting, first aid, suspect vessel tracking and boarding procedures, and weapons usage;

a 15-member Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) team providing training to partner nations in individual and group diving tactics; and

34 members from the Canadian Army, primarily from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2 RCR), some co-leading training in live-fire ranges, simulated urban operations training and command and control mentorship in a joint operational headquarters, and others participating in jungle warfare training led by the Belize Defence Force.


Exercise TRADEWINDS 2014

Exercise TRADEWINDS 14 was the 30th iteration in the exercise series and took place from 1 to 25 June in the Caribbean.

The exercise involved ships, aircraft and personnel from 16 nations, including: Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Netherlands (Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard), St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S.

The CAF contribution to Exercise TRADEWINDS 14 consisted of:

one maritime coastal defence vessel – HMCS Summerside – participating in and leading maritime training serials;

a Diver Training Team of 13 members from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) to train partner nation divers; and

19 members of the Canadian Army to occupy various training positions.

External links

Government of Canada

Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development)

International missions

US South Command (Home Page)

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