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U.S. Department of Defense’s Southern Command Increases Outreach to Caribbean Coast Guards

TAMPA — The U.S. Department of Defense presented the U.S. Southern Command-based Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Technical Assistance Field Team (CBSI-TAFT) with the 2018 Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence in Maintenance Training, Advice, and Assistance of Foreign Security Forces Operational during a ceremony in Florida recently.

TAFT’s technical expertise is one of various forms of security assistance the U.S. provides to Caribbean nations as part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) to help the region reduce illicit trafficking, improve public security, and promote social justice.

The 15-member CBSI-TAFT is comprised of U.S. Coast Guard and Army engineers, technicians, specialists, and logisticians. It has been funded by the U.S. State Department since 2013 as part of a presidential priority. 

The award citation states that “CBSI-TAFT deployed 39 times to 11 nations amounting to 1,459 days on scene, positively influencing 29 percent of USSOUTHCOM’s Area of Responsibility by improving citizen security.”

The assistance provided by TAFT has helped Caribbean coast guards and maritime-patrol units keep their fleets operationally available to disrupt illicit trafficking, conduct search and rescue, and support disaster response missions, as well as other coastal-security operations.

Eastern Caribbean maritime security forces supported by CBSI-TAFT realized increases of 29 percent in patrols, 112 percent in patrol hours, 182 percent in boardings, 50 percent in vessel seizures, and 184 percent in Search and Rescue Operations.

In 2016, the team was recognized by then Secretary of Homeland Security receiving the Secretary’s Unit Award for “unprecedented interagency collaboration” for CBSI and its support to coast guards in the Caribbean.

In 2017, the team was awarded the 2017 Secretary of Defense Foreign Security Forces Maintenance Award for “outstanding achievement and excellence in all facets of maintenance mission support” during a ceremony in Salt Lake City on Dec. 5.

More on this DoD awards program at:

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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