Barbados — Gates Arrives in Barbados to Promote Security Cooperation

BRIDGETOWN — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates arrived here tonight for meet­ings to show sup­port for the Caribbean Basin Secu­ri­ty Ini­tia­tive aimed at curb­ing drug traf­fick­ing and oth­er trans-bor­der threats.

Gates will meet tomor­row with sev­en Caribbean defense min­is­ters to assess progress in the ini­tia­tive Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced a year ago at the Fifth Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cans in Trinidad and Toba­go.

The sec­re­tary told reporters trav­el­ing with him that he plans to deliv­er the same mes­sage he has car­ried through­out this week’s Latin Amer­i­ca trip dur­ing vis­its to Peru and Colom­bia: The only way to con­front region­al threats is through region­al coop­er­a­tion.

“A key ele­ment of this [ini­tia­tive] is the region­al coop­er­a­tion among the sev­en Caribbean islands’ gov­ern­ments and the region­al secu­ri­ty arrange­ments that they have work­ing togeth­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly on nar­cotics, but also crime, which has become a real prob­lem in sev­er­al of the islands,” Gates said.

The secu­ri­ty ini­tia­tive is built on three strate­gic objec­tives: sub­stan­tial­ly reduc­ing illic­it drug traf­fick­ing, advanc­ing pub­lic safe­ty and secu­ri­ty and pro­mot­ing social jus­tice. The Unit­ed States is pro­vid­ing fund­ing to help these coun­tries enhance their capa­bil­i­ties, train­ing and infor­ma­tion exchange to bet­ter address these chal­lenges.

Oba­ma ini­tial­ly pledged $30 mil­lion in fis­cal 2010 fund­ing for the ini­tia­tive, but Gates said an addi­tion­al $15 mil­lion was iden­ti­fied to boost that to $45 mil­lion. “About a third of that mon­ey will be used to … enhance their region­al secu­ri­ty arrange­ments, par­tic­u­lar­ly com­mu­ni­ca­tions and boats for mar­itime inter­dic­tion,” he said.

The president’s fis­cal 2011 bud­get request includes almost $73 mil­lion in mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic aid for the pro­gram.

Fif­teen Caribbean Basin nations are includ­ed in the secu­ri­ty ini­tia­tive: Antigua and Bar­bu­da, The Bahamas, Bar­ba­dos, Belize, Domini­ca, Domini­can Repub­lic, Grena­da, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vin­cent and the Grenadines, Suri­name, and Trinidad and Toba­go.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)