Navy’s seal

Navy’s seal

As Barbados seeks to strengthen its ties with neighbours in South America, Argentina has already identified at least one area in which it will begin working more closely with the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) – the Spanish language.

Speaking during a meeting on Tuesday with the BDF’s Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Grannum and Juan Carlos Romay, the captain of the visiting Argentine Navy vessel, Libertad, Argentina’s Ambassador to Barbados, Gustavo Pandiani, said: “Argentina is ready to play a role in Barbados’ efforts to forge closer ties with Latin America.

“Over the coming year, Prime Minister Mia Mottley may visit Argentina for the first time, which would be the first time a Barbadian Prime Minister will have visited our country.

“This past year Barbados’ Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Jerome Walcott visited Argentina, so now we must put content to the initiative and that will be our job”.

Colonel Grannum identified the teaching of Spanish to some BDF officers as a potential area of initial collaboration, noting that this had been tried before but had not in his view gone far enough. Pandiani responded that his Government was quite willing and able to start such a programme from next year.

He said: “We are ready to put together basic Spanish as a second language programme for 2020.

“We can get a trainer to come in from the embassy and tailor-make the course to military or general defence issues; it could be a one or two-week course, and we can either come to your headquarters or hold it at the embassy.”

The BDF head shared some facts about his organisation and the role of the Regional Security System (RSS) with the ambassador, noting that there is always a need for further training in military matters, especially from a naval perspective. He said: “We would be interested in having your Navy work with our Coast Guard, because, like Argentina, we have a huge maritime space to patrol which is much larger than our land space.”

“We train several of our enlisted seamen and engineers here, and we train within the Caribbean. Most of our officers are trained overseas in the UK, US and Canada, some are even training in China, and we have a lawyer looking to specialise in maritime law who is studying in Scotland.

“So while we have a good mix, that does not mean we do not need more and we would welcome more training in Argentina. As we continue to grow as a small force, and pursuing modernisation, we see ourselves as a global entity not only receiving but providing training for the other islands in the Caribbean.”

The Argentine naval vessel Libertad, a traditional sailing frigate used for training naval officers, was visiting Barbados over the last few days.

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