02/10/13 - Reuters - US trains for mass migration in Caribbean security drill
By Jane Sutton
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba | Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:01pm EST
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A simulated wave of
Caribbean migrants sailed to the Guantanamo naval base this week for a
training drill designed to prepare U.S. troops and security agencies who
might someday have to handle the real thing.
The exercise is held every two years to prepare for a potential mass
migration brought on by political upheaval or natural disaster in the
More than 500 U.S. troops and government workers flew to the Guantanamo
Bay U.S. Naval Base in eastern Cuba for the drill, which started on
Saturday and runs through Friday.
"It's not related to any real-world event," said Colonel Jane Crichton, a
spokeswoman for the U.S. Army South unit based in San Antonio, Texas,
which is participating in the drill.
The drill is taking place on the sparsely populated Leeward side of the
base, which is bisected by Guantanamo Bay. Most of the base facilities are
on the Windward side, including the detention center that holds 166
prisoners captured in anti-terrorism operations.
The Guantanamo base housed more than 45,000 Cuban and Haitian refugees who
were picked up at sea during the last mass migration in the Caribbean in
the mid-1990s. It also served as a logistics hub for U.S. ships and
flights ferrying aid to Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in January
But most of the personnel involved in those operations have moved on to
"We rotate in and out of our jobs a lot," Crichton said. "We have a
turnover of about every two to three years."
Dubbed "Integrated Advance," this week's exercise is a chance for military
and agency heads to set up a command post and practice working together as
they would be required to do during a real humanitarian crisis. The
Department of Homeland Security would take the lead.
Military and other government officials are participating from bases and
offices in the United States but most of the action will take place on a
sun-baked patch of land at the Guantanamo base.
In 2007, military contractors set up rows of cinderblock bathrooms and
showers in the area, where tents would be erected to house migrants
awaiting repatriation or resettlement.
Concertina wire, small satellite dishes and bright green tents dotted the
area for this week's drill. Some of the soldiers and sailors camped out
there will play the role of migrants while others will practice
registering them into a Department of Homeland Security database and
sorting them into group camps, Crichton said.
"They believe we can handle approximately 1,000 a day," she said.
Other participants will conduct mock press conferences and produce a
television news report on the operation, with sailors playing the role of
journalists and actual public affairs officers conducting the briefings.
The participants would not disclose the script they will be working from,
and the fictional migrants will be identified only as hailing from Country
One and Country Two.
A similar drill held in Miami in 2007 envisioned a mass exodus of Cubans
fleeing violence after their government fell, with Florida boaters headed
south to pick up relatives and a mystery virus spreading among the refugee
During the drill, events that would take place over several months will be
compressed into a few days.
"They're as realistic as they can be," Crichton said. "To work together in
an exercise before we actually have to do it in a real-world situation is
The participants stressed that there is no anticipation of a refugee
crisis any time soon. In fact, the number of Caribbean migrants taking to
the seas in flimsy boats has been relative small in recent years.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it intercepted 2,955 migrants at sea in fiscal
2012, and 605 since October 1, the majority of them Haitians and Cubans.
It has been nearly a decade since the annual total topped 10,000.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
CUBA-L FAIR USE NOTICE
This server contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of Cuba's political, economic, human rights, international, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and historical issues, among others. We distribute the materials on the basis of a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. The material is distributed without profit. The material should be used for information, research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ uscode/17/107.shtml.