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Regional Security System


The Regional Security System (RSS) was created out of a need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting on the stability of the region in the early 1970’s and 1980’s. In October 1982, four members of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, namely, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide for “mutual assistance on request”. St. Kitts and Nevis joined after gaining independence in September 1983 and Grenada in January 1985. The MOU was updated in 1992 and the RSS acquired juridical status in March 1996 by way of the Treaty which was signed in St. Georges, Grenada.

The memorandum made provisions for a fast-moving non-bureaucratic organisation which could develop and coordinate joint efforts among its Member States to the security needs of its common domestic space if requested. This was first demonstrated in October 1983 when, together with the military forces of the United States of America and Jamaica, the RSS deployed troops to Grenada to restore democracy after a period of political upheaval. This intervention would have been impossible without the mutual cooperation and understanding which is characteristic of the Regional Security System response mechanism found in the Memorandum of Understanding and later on in the Treaty Establishing the RSS. The Regional Security System is a “hybrid” organisation, in that its security forces comprise both military and police personnel who remain under the command of their respective Heads.

The collective needs of the RSS MS always dictated the strategic and operational focus of the RSS HQ.  During the Cold war period, the security environment was characterised by heightened tensions which caused domestic political and economic instability and fear for territorial integrity due to armed external intervention. Approaches to managing these traditional national security concerns were often reflected through internal security and maritime drug interdiction training, and the perfection of a non-bureaucratic, fast-paced resource deployment under the RSS collective response mechanism. During the birthing period, the RSS mainly focused on strengthening border security and maritime surveillance mechanisms in an effort to counter the predominant threat of the time- illicit narcotics trafficking. The organisation’s work resulted in the establishment of a progressive sub-regional Air Wing, resourced to support maritime counterdrug operations, and other missions. This experiment in resource-pooling has netted significant benefits for the RSS membership.

In light of RSS’ success, and its unique position as the sole regional security organisation with the responsibility and expertise in coordinating joint, combined operations in response to threats to national and regional security, the RSS was given the responsibility of performing these functions on behalf of CARICOM under the Treaty on Security Assistance. Its responsibilities to the wider CARICOM region also extend to supporting the regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) framework through coordination of training and deployment of the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit under CDEM




While the achievements of the past are celebrated, RSS acknowledges the paradigm shift in the definition of security and prioritisation of threats affecting the social and economic resilience of Member States. The contemporary security environment is now thought to become more complex; characterised by a melting pot of various modalities of security threats such as transnational organised crime, terrorism, piracy, environmental degradation, pandemic disease, and cyber-attacks to name a few. Additionally, technological tools are increasingly being used in the conduct of nefarious activities which affect person and property. This paradigm shift has influenced the restructuring of the RSS Headquarters and its strategic plan of action for the medium term to include the extended air wing support for COVID-19 initiatives, incorporation of an Asset Recovery Unit, Digital Forensics Lab, Regional Crime Observatory and directorate with responsibility for supporting the implementation of the CARICOM Cyber Security Action Plan.

In light of the new and emerging challenges to RSS Member States, direct support to the RSS Membership has therefore evolved to include supporting national security architectures with improved diagnostic capabilities to national crime and security problems, improving legal, regulatory, investigative and prosecutorial procedures in Member States to treat to financial crimes involving FIAT or virtual currencies, strengthening national compliance with international standards for anti-Money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, improving capacities for prevention and response to maritime pollution, and improved capabilities for maritime surveillance, interdiction and regulation of living and non-living resources in the maritime space, institutional strengthening of law enforcement institutions, with particular reference to standardising policing procedures and supporting digital forensics investigations capabilities.

The increased digital footprints of citizenry and environmental degradation have the ability to affect the security landscape and influences the ability of law enforcement authorities to protect citizens within today’s prevailing environment. In order to keep apace with the evolving security environment and the corresponding evolving needs and responsibilities for RSS authorities in protecting the domestic spaces, the RSS HQ acknowledges the need to strengthen its own coordinating and advisory capacities and continues to ensure the RSS Response Mechanism remains compliant with required responses to new and emerging threats such as health pandemics, natural and man-made hazards and cyber attacks. Invariably, a strong assessment and operational response platform is reliant on an equally robust training framework. The RSS Strategic Plan also focusses on strengthening the capacity to identify training needs of law enforcement agencies, strengthen quality assurance mechanisms for training development and delivery of RSS programmes, and the continuous professional development of RSS instructors, and strengthen RSS programmes through recognition of its programmes by accredited educational institutions.


RSS Organisational structure RSS HQ structure