NEWS | June 26, 2021

75th Troop Command supports SOUTHCOM during Tradewinds exercise

By Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

After more than a year of planning, 75th Troop Command, Kentucky National Guard, executed the largest U.S.-led multinational training exercise in the Caribbean this year, serving as the headquarters for base camp operations during Tradewinds 2021, June 11-26.

Tradewinds 21 is a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) sponsored Caribbean security-focused exercise in the ground, air, sea, and cyber domains; working with partner nations to conduct joint, combined, and interagency training, focused on increasing regional cooperation and stability.

This year, 12 partner nations attended the 36th iteration of Tradewinds, hosted by Guyana, the only South American country with English as its official language, holding cultural ties to the greater Caribbean. Nestled between Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela, Guyana’s geography offers a vast coastline and terrain that adequately facilitates training that serves the needs of the participating nations.

This was the first time 75th TC supported SOUTHCOM with joint and multi-component US forces, in addition to interagency and multinational partners while in an overseas environment.

“While we were primarily sourced as the Camp Operations headquarters, 75th TC became SOUTHCOM’s go-to unit for everything ranging from strategic mobility, logistical support in country, to administrative tracking of all forces on ground,” said Col. Timothy R. Starke, commander, 75th TC, and director of Operations, Kentucky National Guard.

“That kind of responsibility required leaders and Soldiers to operate independently, think critically, and innovate to solve problems in order to make all of our partners successful,” he said.

Enter Maj. Eric Green, the 75th TC logistics and contracting officer during Tradewinds.

Green and the 75th TC staff were initially planning for Tradewinds 21 to be held in Barbados; however, the host nation changed to Guyana late in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 75th TC planning team had to adjust for this change.

“As the mission changed location, Army Southern Command was very helpful in explaining and facilitating the process for Tradewinds; from adjusting for the number of participants, infrastructure, mobility, communications, environmental considerations, climate, and other variables; and as a result, set the 75th TC up for success from the start,” he said. “The initial coordination with SOUTHCOM and ARSOUTH was essential.”

The 75th TC headquarters operated out of Camp Stephenson and provided support for personnel across the entire area of training operations.

They worked alongside their host partner, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), and tenant units; 305th Minimal Care Unit (U.S. Army Reserve), 714th Quartermaster Company, water purification, field feeding (Puerto Rico National Guard), 735th Quartermaster Company, shower and laundry (Missouri National Guard), 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade and Bravo Company 1-85th Assault Helicopter Battalion (Florida National Guard), and 7th Special Forces Group (U.S. Army Active).

With Tradewinds occurring during the COVID 19 pandemic in South America, all participating forces followed COVID 19 protocols which included wearing masks, social distancing guidelines, and utilizing handwashing stations and hand sanitizer, resulting in zero positive cases from all personnel.

Starke praised his staff for their dedication to safety, proficiency, and adaptability while carrying out the mission, and praised the Guyanese people for their hospitality and effectiveness during the exercise and support in cultural growth for his Soldiers.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Rowan and I knew that we had an amazing brigade full of superb Soldiers, but our success during TRADEWINDS demonstrated how truly versatile, adaptable and proficient our troops are,” said Starke.

“The warmth, hospitality, diversity, and culture of the [Guyanese] people, the professionalism of the Guyana Defence Force, and the beauty of the ‘Land of Many Waters’ have all made deep and lasting impacts on our Soldiers. I am incredibly grateful that our Soldiers, and I personally, had the opportunity to experience Guyana,” he said.

As a result of their hard work, and feedback from superior and subordinate unit leadership, the 75th TC look forward to another opportunity to participate in the next iteration of Tradewinds.