KITTITIAN DEFENCE FORCE OFFICER BRINGS LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCES HOME
The devastating earthquake in Haiti six months ago, and the Tivoli Gardens Crisis in Jamaica provided real life experiences for Captain Kayode Sutton of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) who recently returned to the Federation from an extensive regional training exercise.
Captain Sutton attended the five month Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course (CJCSC) that was held in Jamaica. It was coordinated by the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) with assistance from the Canadian military. The course began in early February, and weeks later Sutton found himself observing the coordination of relief efforts in Haiti.
“We just made a visit, and it’s like applying some of the procedures that we were being taught to a real life situation and to see how (officials) function so as to … grasp the difficulties, the challenges and so forth,” he stated.
The death and destruction were difficult to cope with.
“I saw and it was really heart touching,” Captain Sutton admitted, who noted that he relied on his military training and focused on the command operations to avoid the full effects of an emotional response. “The experience in Haiti goes beyond words. You really cannot explain.”
The Defence Force Officer explained that the training is being incorporated into the disaster relief exercises taking place at Camp Springfield as the Hurricane Season continues, and the risk of flash flooding remains a possibility due to heavy rainfall.
Captain Sutton recalled that a short time after the JDF battalion stationed at Moneague Training Base returned from their mercy mission in Haiti, they were called to action yet again for the Tivoli Gardens operation in late May, designed to capture alleged drug king pin Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
As was done in Haiti , the course participants observed the decision making up close as part of the “Internal Security” portion of the course. The incident reportedly served as a cautionary tale for security forces.
“The security forces anywhere in the communities have to keep on their P’s and Q’s and ensure that we do not allow criminals to establish territories and … dominate and terrorize people within those communities. But the responsibility does not just lie with the security forces alone,” Sutton empasized. “Security is the responsibility of everyone … that lives in the community. When you see something going on, it is best to report it to the security people and let it be dealt with.”
Captain Sutton summed up the training as “very beneficial” and stressed that the lessons learnt will be shared to enhance the capabilities of local authorities.