Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on March 11, 2018, that his Ministry was working in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, with a view to increasing the retirement age for enlisted personnel in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF). “We must take steps to stop the brain drain in the RBDF,” Minister Dames said, during the RBDF Annual Church Service, held at the New Destiny Baptist Church, Jean Street. “Further, having been advised of the backlog of promotions, particularly that of junior rate corps, I have asked the Commander of the Force to review and report the findings accordingly,” he added. “I have also authorized a review of the allowances, additional qualification pay, sea pay, air pay and other allowances for members of the Defence Force, which is long overdue.” Minister Dames noted that the Government believes that succession planning and training go hand-in-hand. Towards that end, he said, steps were being undertaken to transform the Training Department into an accredited institution for the training of quality Officers and Marines in the Defence Force, and the region. “This military institution will focus on the development of character and leadership, management and supervisory, and professional and technical skills for members of the Force,” he said. “I can also report that the Force has already commenced the first phase of development of its Naval-Infantry School, with the intention of making it a regional center of excellence for amphibious military training.”
Minister Dames said that, when expanding transnational criminal networks are taken into consideration against the backdrop of The Bahamas’ geographical challenges and ever-stretching resources, the need for even greater collaboration with local and regional partners to minimize their threats to national security was clearly evident. “To mitigate these threats, our Government through one of its policy directives is moving towards the establishment of a Multi-agency Law Enforcement Coastal Security Programme to include the RBDF, RBPF, HMC, and BID,” he said. “This multi-agency program will be responsible for conducting onshore/offshore patrols. “We must better secure our borders. The status quo is no longer acceptable.” Additionally, Minister Dames said, the Bahamas Government will make provision for the development of a multi-law enforcement drone program, with the RBDF as the lead agency. Programme participants will include the Police Force, Customs, Immigration, and Correctional Services Departments. “Plans are already being developed for the Drone programme, which is expected to commence during the second half of this year,” he added.
Minister Dames said that the Defence Force had also provided hurricane relief assistance to hundreds of Bahamians for three consecutive years. “Today, Marines are still deployed in Ragged Island providing relief services for that Island due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Irma,” he said. “Just last year, The Bahamas Government had tasked the Defence Force with transporting relief supplies to the Commonwealth of Dominica aboard HMBS Lawrence Major on behalf of both The Bahamas and Jamaican Governments. The mission was hailed as a great success.” Minister Dames stated that, undoubtedly, the Defence Force is transitioning into a new era of modernization to address current threats and challenges. Its strategies, organizational structure, facilities, and air, land and sea operations are changing, he added. “I, therefore, encourage every one of you as members of the Defence Force to be the leaders that you are as you take the Defence Force forward, upward, onward and together,” Minister Dames said. “As you do, be assured of my commitment as Minister of National Security to provide you with the support that you need to succeed in your mission of guarding our heritage.” “I take this opportunity to thank the Commander of the Defence Force, his Executive Command Team, Senior Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, Marines, civilian staff and veterans for another year of committed service to the preservation of our national safety and well-being,” he added. “We are very proud of you and we appreciate your service.”