Bridgetown U.S. Embassy provides US $10 mil. in new assistance for the Regional Security System
I am very pleased to be here today to announce over TEN MILLION U.S. DOLLARS in new U.S. assistance for the Air Wing of the Regional Security System.
As you know, the Regional Security System has been at the forefront of the Caribbean’s fight against transnational crime for many years. The RSS Air Wing has played a very special and very significant role in that fight, with over twelve years of flight operations dedicated to maritime counter drug operations.
The RSS has logged more than 11,000 flight hours, run almost 2500 missions, intercepted over 500 vessels involved in the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons. This has resulted in the apprehension of suspected traffickers, and the seizure of over 80,000 lbs of marijuana, over 27,000 lbs of cocaine.
The United States is proud of our own role as a long-standing partner of the RSS and a steadfast supporter of the Air Wing. In January 1999, we donated the first of these two C-26A aircraft. Our relationship has grown over the years with the donation of the second C-26A, vehicles, gear and the implementation of training programs for RSS personnel, bringing the to-date total to over US$23 million.
It is through this kind of true partnership that we will succeed in the fight against transnational crime, narcotics and weapon trafficking, and make our shared region safer for all of our citizens.
Today, I’m excited to announce our continued strong support for the RSS with over US$10 million for the Air Wing: US$8.25 million will ensure that both U.S.-donated C-26A aircraft have the latest onboard sensors and an upgrade for the airframes and avionics equipment to meet international safety and operational standards. An additional $1.9 million is designated for training to upgrade skills and capabilities of law enforcement and defense personnel of RSS member nations.
This $10 million in new assistance is part of President Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative – or CBSI – an initiative founded on the idea of true partnership between the United States and the countries of the Caribbean. Through this partnership, all of our countries have agreed to share the responsibility for ensuring our common security. This is not a hand-out – it’s a down payment to help the RSS and its member states implement our common vision for a safer, more prosperous Caribbean region.
We will continue to work with the RSS as it seeks to craft a strategic plan for the newly refurbished and upgraded Air Wing for the next decade – a plan through which the member states will deepen their commitment of partnership with us to sustain and rationalise this down payment from the American people.