No Cut-Backs in Defence Force Spending

Sunday 01st, August 2010 / 01:53 Published by

The Government of The Bahamas will continue to provide the Royal Bahamas Defence Force with the resources required to permit the Force to effectively implement its critical national security mandate despite the continued downturn in the world and local economy.

Minister of National Security the Hon. O.A. T. “Tommy” Turnquest said many aspects of the country’s crime problems are directly linked to transnational criminal activity in Bahamian waters, particularly drug and arms trafficking, which he said continue to constitute major challenges.

He said work at sea is “central” to the Defence Force’s security structure and that as a result, the Defence Force has more air and sea assets, and more technological equipment, to carry out its mandate, than at any time in the Force’s 30-year history.

“You must always bear in mind that our country’s geography and its geographical location on the route from Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States, brings with it significant national security challenges, many of which begin on our seas, and are likely to persist for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“When drugs and guns move from sea to land, they fuel crime on our streets, and in our communities. I emphasise these points to highlight the critical role of the Defence Force in protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and indeed our people at sea, and in contributing to the prevention of crime and criminal activity in our country, as well as undertaking critical emergency and search and rescue functions,” Mr. Turnquest added.

Mr. Turnquest said while the interdiction of drugs and gun smugglers plays a pivotal role in the work of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Force’s work extends beyond those efforts.

“As a maritime nation, our seaborne challenges do not end with drugs and arms trafficking. We also have to contend with illegal immigration and the plundering of our marine resources. It is a primary responsibility of the Defence Force to protect our marine resources and Bahamian fishermen, and to thwart commercial fishing by foreign fishermen in our territorial waters.

“In fact, the 2010 Crawfish season opens in two days on Sunday, and this responsibility of the Defence Force becomes even more critical,” he added.

Addressing the “Passing Out” Ceremonies to welcome 49 new Marines – 39 men and 10 women — to the ranks of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Mr. Turnquest told the Marine Recruits that they have the distinction of joining the service during the Defence Force’s 30th year “as a distinct maritime law enforcement organisation, charged with protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Bahamas.”

The National Security Minister said he was “especially pleased” that the squad comprised Marines not only from New Providence, but Grand Bahama and other Family Islands.

“I commend the Commodore and the Senior Command for their forward-thinking, in actively recruiting qualified young Bahamians to the Defence Force, no matter on which island of The Bahamas they live,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“As new Marines, you can be called upon to serve not only in New Providence, but also in Grand Bahama, Abaco, the Exumas and Great Inagua, and soon, at Gun Point in Ragged Island.”

Mr. Turnquest said the Marine Recruits are also joining the Defence Force at “an exciting time” of the Defence Force
“It is a time when we are engaged in the phased acquisition of 11 additional sea craft over the next six years, {2-140ft; 4-100ft; 4-60ft; 1-auxiliary vessel-160 to 180ft.} and when an expanding network of bases offers opportunities to serve country-wide,” he said.

“It is a time when training and re-training are being given high priority with considerable focus on leadership and management skills and the capacity to service our sea and air craft.

“It is a time when Officers and Marines are benefiting from extensive academic, operational and other training opportunities, particularly those offered through the United States Office of Defence Cooperation,” Mr. Turnquest added.


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