Forces assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet (USNAVSO/4THFLT), U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH), and II Marine Expeditionary Force conducted exercise Caraibes 2022, June 7-17.
Caraibes 2022 was a combined and joint training exercise in the Caribbean involving naval, air, and land assets. Led by the French Armed Forces of the Antilles (FAA), this multinational exercise promoted cooperation among regional forces and their collective ability to successfully provide humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) in response to a natural disaster.
Coinciding with the start of hurricane season (June to November), the exercise began with a scenario simulating a hurricane that would severely impact the islands in the region. Participating countries, which included Canada, France, and the Netherlands, along with observers from Brazil, Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago, assembled a task force to plan and conduct HA/DR operations in response. Forces first coordinated planning efforts in port, and then went to sea and conducted a series of events to practice and demonstrate the interoperability and combined capabilities of forces working together.
“The valuable training we conducted here capitalizes on one of our greatest strengths — trust and military professionalism while working with partners around the globe,” said Rear Admiral Doug Sasse, reserve vice commander, USNAVSO/4THFLT. “Our collective capabilities are stronger than those of any individual organization, and together, we will continue to develop a team of partners, more resilient and capable of addressing shared challenges in this part of the world.”
The exercise took place on the French Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, and Saint-Martin, with a total of 11 surface units, 10 air assets, and over 2,500 people.
Amphibious landings were executed to transport U.S. and French marines to conduct field exercises as well as demonstrate the ability to move personnel, gear and vehicles to remote areas that may not otherwise be accessible due to damage from a natural disaster. Forces also practiced events such as rescue and assistance, firefighting and first aid, maritime interdiction operations, maneuvering drills, and cross-decking of aircraft and personnel.
“The opportunity to work in the air, on land, and on sea with our French counterparts proved to be invaluable training and an experience my crew will never forget,” said U.S. Navy Commander Brett Seeley, commanding officer of USS Billings. “We were able to strengthen interoperability and enhance relationships to ensure we are prepared to work together as a team to support our mutual interests in the region.”
Caraibes 2022 aims at developing the interoperability of partners in the Caribbean to leverage their collective efficiency in rescuing the population, medical evacuations, and the distribution of vital goods such as food, water, and medical supplies.
Concluding with a closing ceremony in Martinique, Caraibes 2022 helped to ensure the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, along with partner nations, are prepared and able to rapidly respond to a humanitarian crisis.