The Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies hosted “Caribbean Defense and Security Challenges in the Twenty-First Century,” an Advanced Policymaking Seminar (APS) in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 11 to 13 May. The event provided an opportunity for regional experts, CHDS alumni, and invited policymakers to address key security and defense related issues facing the Caribbean region today. The areas of focus for this year’s event included illicit activity, the impacts of climate change, and the role international cooperation plays in addressing the region’s security challenges. This APS was co-sponsored with the Regional Security System (RSS), a multinational security organization headquartered at Paragon Centre in Barbados.
On Wednesday night, the Center’s Director, Dr. Richard Downie, welcomed over 100 local and foreign attendees. He was joined by General Douglas Fraser, Commander, US Southern Command, and Colonel Alvin Quintyne, Chief of Staff, Barbados Defence Force. While acknowledging the success of the last Caribbean APS in Miami, Dr. Downie extolled the significance of conducting this year’s event in Barbados, a nation that has served as the hub for much of the region’s security cooperation. All three speakers noted the importance to all Caribbean nations of combating non-traditional threats, which can jeopardize personal security, maritime trade, and tourist-based economies. In a more celebratory tone, both General Fraser and Dr. Downie also congratulated Colonel Quintyne on receiving the Legion of Merit, among the most prestigious military decorations awarded by the United States Department of Defense.
Among the conference’s featured speakers were Dr. Ivelaw Griffith of York College at the City University of New York and Mr. Grantley Watson, Regional Security Coordinator of the RSS. CHDS alumni from across the Caribbean region participated and shared their insights. In breakout groups, participants analyzed current defense and security issues facing the states in the region in order to promote a better understanding of regional policy efforts and exploring concepts that may lead to novel initiatives to enhance international cooperation. The event also served as a prime opportunity to renew and expand contacts with the Center’s alumni.