Tobago is the launch off hub of the Fused Response 2018 exercise, according to Liaison Officer of the Trinida and Tobago Defence Force, Colonel Kester Weekes. The exercise is a bilateral crisis response training initiative of the Governments of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.Weekes, speaking with Newsday Tobago via telephone on Monday, said Fused Response 2018 is a simulation exercise designed to build capacity and strengthen capabilities in TT. The exercise should be able to put the country’s emergency response plans under much scrutiny, validate processes and identify any possible gaps. “Fused response is an exercise aimed at improving the country’s capabilities in crisis management issues. It is primarily geared towards security enhancement and capacity building and is expected to enable the national security agencies to be better prepared and capable of protecting citizens, residents and visitors on the soil of Trinidad and Tobago. This year it is been held in Trinidad and Tobago and it is a whole of Government’s response to crisis management. What makes this exercise unique is its attempt to move from testing various arms of the military, to testing Government’s holistic approach to crisis management,” he said. With the main exercise scheduled to take place from April 16-27, the liaison office said that this is the first tim Tobago will be tested in a stimulation of this magnitude. “The fact of the matter is that the hub of operations, the launch out operations is the ANR Robinson International Airport and this in itself is a test of our redundancy. Generally, when we have exercises of this sort, everything happens out of Trinidad and we have not really tested the ability of the ANR Robinson Airport to be the launch off hub, so that in itself is a test of one of our systems of governance that we haven’t necessarily tested. The main emphasis of the exercise will be tabletop and command post,” he said. Weekes added that Members of TT’s armed forces, including the TT Defence Force and the Police Service will all participate in the intense training exercise. “The exercise is about a series of events that would cause the National Security Council to become involved in a crisis management. It will of course include as a subset the ODPM (Office of Disaste Management) who would normally be activated at times like this, it will also include TEMA (Tobago Emergency Management Agency) who will of course be activated as well. Additionally, we are using elements of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health; all of these add on in terms of creating a scenario where the whole of Government power, soft power will be called to solve a series of issues that we would be stimulating,” he said. According to Weekes, Exercise Fused Response is an annual routine exercise that has been sponsored by the US Government via the US Southern Command since 2012 and has been hosted in neighbouring Caribbean and Central American countries such as Guyana and Belize. However, this is the firs time Fused Response is being executed in Trinidad and Tobago after Central Government’s acceptance to host the exercise in early 2017.