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The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) participates each year in Exercise TRADEWINDS. It is a training event in the Caribbean led by the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). The exercise brings together defence and security partners from different countries to improve security in the region.

There are four main areas of focus:

  • stopping organized crime and other threats that affect people across borders
  • humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
  • responding quickly to all events
  • strengthening partnerships, including between militaries and civilian organizations

The exercise has multiple phases to make sure that it can meet diverse training needs.

Exercise TRADEWINDS 2018

CAF members are participating in Exercise TRADEWINDS from June 4 to 21, 2018. It includes participants from 22 nations and key regional organizations. The exercise is taking place in St. Kitts and Nevis, and the Bahamas.

The CAF will participate on the land and at sea. In total, the CAF is sending about 80 soldiers and sailors. These include:

  • Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Shawinigan
  • a dive team from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic)
  • mentors from the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army
  • a joint CAF and Global Affairs Canada disaster assessment team which will train in responding to humanitarian crises


Through Exercise TRADEWINDS, partner nations help make regional defence stronger. They address threats to security and stability in the Caribbean by:

  • working with multiple security partners to plan for future programs
  • sharing new equipment and methods for defence and security, including methods to stop trafficking by sea
  • improving information sharing, particularly about air and sea traffic in the Caribbean
  • supporting the purchase and use of equipment and resources that meet partners' needs, and ensuring that these nations can maintain these resources


Through Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the CAF is contributing to a more secure and peaceful world. The CAF also defends Canadian interests. There are threats that go beyond national borders. So, it is important to work with partners outside of Canada in order to keep Canada secure.

Further, Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas is focused on the following areas:

  • addressing insecurity
  • advancing freedom, democracy and the rule of law
  • increasing economic opportunity
  • fostering lasting relationships

The Area

Caribbean states lie along major sea routes to both North America and Europe. Illegal trafficking takes place in these areas and criminal activity crosses over national borders. Natural disasters are also a frequent threat.  Most Caribbean countries belong to security agencies that are linked together, but regional resources are limited.  

Because of this, other countries such as Canada and the U.S. have been called to the Caribbean region in times of crisis. They go in to assist and help these countries work better together. They also help with buying new equipment and resources.

The Caribbean region is a hub where many countries do business. The region is not large but it is important for international trade. Many security partners are needed to help monitor the area and meet its unique challenges.  

Canadian tourism and trade volume is high in the Caribbean Sea. It remains a key area of interest to Canada.

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 in two distinct phases. The first ran from June 5 to 14 in Grenada. The second ran from June 20 to 28 in Jamaica. The exercise involved ships, aircraft and people. They came from more than 20 nations and several key regional organizations.

The CAF’s contribution to the exercise included:

  • A Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) (FDU(A)) team. It provided dive training to partner nations
  • HMCS Shawinigan. The ship trained partner nations in first aid, weapons, and firefighting and damage control. It was part of a task group that focused on how to track, intercept and board suspect vessels. It was also a platform for FDU(A) dive training
  • About 30 Canadian Army members. They came mainly from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton, Alberta. They helped develop several types of training. These were live-fire ranges training, simulated urban operations training, and command and control training in a joint operational headquarters

The CAF also used its Operational Support Hub for the Latin American and the Caribbean region for the first time. This was to support Phase II of the exercise in Jamaica.


Exercise TRADEWINDS 2015

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

The CAF contribution to Exercise TRADEWINDS 15 included:

  • HMCS Glace Bay. The ship trained regional partners in firefighting, first aid, suspect vessel tracking and boarding procedures, and weapons usage.
  • A 15-member Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) team. The team trained partner nations in individual and group diving.
  • 34 members from the Canadian Army. They came primarily from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2 RCR). Part of this group co-led training in shooting, combat in an urban setting, and guidance on how to manage a joint operational headquarters. The others took part in jungle warfare training led by the Belize Defence Force.

Exercise TRADEWINDS 2014

Exercise TRADEWINDS 14 took place from June 1 to 25 in the Caribbean. It was the 30th time the exercise took place.

The exercise involved ships, aircraft and personnel from 16 nations.

The CAF contribution to Exercise TRADEWINDS 14 included:

  • HMCS Summerside. The ship and its crew of 40 sailors led and participated in maritime training exercises
  • A 13-member Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) team. The team trained partner nation divers
  • 19 Canadian Army members. Part of this group co-led training in shooting and urban tactics. The others helped managed the exercise activities

External links

Government of Canada

Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy

Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean (Global Affairs Canada)

International missions

US South Command (Home Page)

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