BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: In an attempt to tackle regional security challenges and international terrorism, the United States is providing US$45 million for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, made the announcement following a private meeting with CARICOM leaders, Ministers of Defense and the Regional Security System last week in Bridgetown.
Gates said once approved, the money would not only be used for the fund but also to assist the region in improving its maritime patrol interdiction capabilities, domain awareness and the provision of joint training opportunities and exercises.
He also revealed that US$70 million would be budgeted towards the fund for next year.
Apart from addressing maritime issues, Gates remarked that the CBSI represented a comprehensive approach to providing not only for improved security capabilities to confront immediate threats but also to develop assistance in the hopes of addressing the root causes of regional problems, such as a lack of educational and employment opportunities.
Describing the meeting as fruitful, Gates said: “I came away impressed by the innovative approaches being taken to collective security, especially the ability of Caribbean nations to marshal limited resources to address common threats.
“I want all the ministers to know that the United States understands the enormous challenges that you can face in combating illicit trafficking and violent crime in the Eastern Caribbean — challenges that touch our shores as well.”
Reiterating U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge made at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last year, Gates stressed that the U.S. government stood ready to assist the region in confronting these trans-national threats.
Before making his announcement, Gates met briefly with Prime Minister David Thompson for private talks. The meeting was preceded by a cultural visit to George Washington House by Gates and his team.