Organization of Eastern Caribbean States / Regional Security System
The islands of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States constitute a chain of independent islands and are sometimes referred to as the Leeward & Windward Islands, dating back to the 1700s, when English ships bound for Jamaica followed the trade-wind passage, stopping at islands along the way. Today the island chain consists of seven independent states as well as the remains of British, French and Dutch colonial rule.
Named after one of the Indian tribes that inhabited the area when Columbus arrived, today's Caribbean is one of the geographically and culturally most diversified areas in the world. Descendants of black slaves, Indian tribes, European colonists and East Indians make up the mixed and culturally varied Caribbean population. Influenced by their respective colonizers many of the islands keep a strong colonial flavour.
One of the first attempt to form a federation of islands was made in 1875 when the governor of Barbados attempted to implement a British proposal calling for a Windward Islands confederation. Many attempts followed with altering success, although none of them reached the full Federation status and made it for a more than a few years. The West Indies Federation lasted only from 1958 to 1962. The federation united Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the British colonies in the Leeward and Windward islands. Following this attempt in 1966 the West Indies States Association (WISA) was formed as administrative arrangement that gave the Windward and Leeward islands limited autonomy and marked their ways to independence. Finally the formation of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States led to greater economic and international coordination among the states and consisted of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & The Grenadines. That same year, however, Barbados became the first independent island of the eastern Caribbean island chain and others followed.
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Regional Security System
By 1982, thinking on regional policy had begun to focus more on security concerns and less on political and economic issues. The 1983 military intervention of Grenada by the United States was backed up by the RSS. Grenada itself joined the RSS in 1985, after relations with the United States and neighbouring islands had improved, following the establishment of a new government.
Plans for a permanent Regional Defence Force were shelvedmainly because it would be too costly and governments feared a militarization of the Eastern Caribbean. Meanwhile annual exercises and operations with US forces in the Caribbean are conducted frequently. From the beginning of the 90s security issues changed from socialism towards drug trafficking and the RSS focussed on counter drugs operations. Subsequently, US Congress approved the donation of two C-26 Metros in 1996, which included crew training and spare parts. Eventually, operations commenced in 1999 after advanced radar equipment was installed and crews and technicians were trained by the US Department of State.
The acquisition brought an unseen boost in capabilities to the organization as none of the member states operate any military aircraft by themselves. Both aircraft are based at Bridgetown-Grantley Adams IAP in Barbados and are often quoted as belonging to the Barbados Defence Force, although carrying RSS related serials. The aircraft carry out counter drugs operations in the Eastern Caribbean and are assigned often to the US Joint Interagency Task Force East working together with British, Dutch, French and US military units.