Ministerial Statement by the Minister of National Security, The Honourable Wayne Caines, JP, MP
Mr. Speaker, over the past three months, the Royal Bermuda Regiment has engaged in several activities related to local and overseas training, defence engagement, and recruiting. As such, I wish to provide this Honourable House with an update.
Mr. Speaker, the leadership of the Regiment is currently concluding a Strategic Review, initiated in December 2017. Subject to approval by His Excellency the Governor, this review will form the basis of a five-year plan and an associated timeline. This plan will be aimed at better aligning the Regiment's structure and training to operational output and capability.
Mr. Speaker, the Regiment will invest in its soldiers by increasing training opportunities for individual soldiers and aligning training with real world standards to ensure portability of qualifications. Further, over the coming years, the Regiment will increase interoperability with partner agencies on the island and armed forces in the region, through initiatives such as the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that a decision was made to cancel this year's overseas training camp as a result of the ongoing strategic review, and a greater emphasis is being placed on the creation of a full time maritime role, and better aligning training with operational output. This saw elements of the regiment train on the island for a week in May. A second week of training involving a Joint Services Test Exercise, will take place in October.
Mr. Speaker, the May training included:
- Joint training with the Bermuda Police Service PSU. This involved Alpha Company's Operational Support Unit (OSU) training with the BPS in order to maximize interoperability, particularly with crowd control tactics.
- Special Constable Training. Soldiers who recently joined Alpha Company, the Boat Troop as well as the Regimental Police Unit underwent special constable training, comprising a law and procedure module, as well as an officer safety module. This training complements the mission specific training which was completed in the lead up to the America's Cup. The result is a Special Constable capability that can be called upon when needed.
- EMR Course. Four members of the medial section completed a 100-hour Emergency Medical Responder Course with the St John's Ambulance Brigade.
- GED Program. This period has also seen ten soldiers participate in a GED program which the regiment has offered internally. The first phase of this program has been completed and the majority of soldiers are on track to earn their high school diploma equivalency this year.
Mr. Speaker, although the annual overseas camp was cancelled, certain members of the Regiment participated in smaller overseas training, including:
- Junior Non-Commission Officers' Cadre. 30 Soldiers travelled to Camp Lejeune, NC to participate in the test exercise phase of the JNCO Cadre. This command and leadership course equips soldiers with the skills to lead a section of eight men and women.
- Senior Musician Course. RBR Bandmaster designate CSgt Sheldon Fox recently completed the Senior Musician's Course at the US Naval School of Music in Virginia.
- ACSC. Two Majors attended the first phase of the Advanced Command and Staff Course (reserve) at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. This course prepares suitable officers to lead an Army Reserve regiment. It should be noted that outside of wages, the RBR is able to participate in UK courses at no cost.
- Royal Navy Small Boat Course. Two private soldiers (a male and female) from the Boat Troop attended a Small Boat Course in the Cayman Islands. This course covered coxswain and small boat engineering training. This course was entirely UK funded.
Mr. Speaker, five lines of Defence Engagement have been conducted during this second quarter.
- Barbados Coast Guard Study. In March, two officers from the Barbados Coast Guard completed a four week study to develop a concept for the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard. This concluded with a presentation to Bermuda stakeholders and forms the basis of the RBR's plan for undertaking a maritime role.
- CRIOC. The RBR attended the Caribbean Region Information Operations Council Meeting in Jamaica. The RBR's participation in this meeting was funded by US NORTHCOM. This is the fifth year in which the Regiment has participated. Over the past two years, NORTHCOM has donated vehicles to the RBR, sponsored a combat camera team visit in 2017 to generate promotional content, and this February sponsored combat camera and operations security training on island.
- Overseas Territories Disaster Management Conference. In May the FCO sponsored the RBR's participation in a disaster management conference in Miami where the Regiment made a presentation on is deployment on Operation RUMAN in the aftermath of Hurricanes IRMA and MARIA.
- MOD Rapid Deployment Meeting. The RBR further participated in a UK MOD sponsored meeting in the Cayman Islands to discuss the Regiment's future deployment in support of disaster relief operations in the region. The RBR Executive Officer was asked to deliver a presentation regarding the RBR support to Op RUMAN. Bermuda's contribution was extremely well received and appreciated.
- Belize. In order to scope out options for overseas training in 2019, the RBR visited the Belize Defence Force, Belize Coast Guard and the British Army Training Unit Belize.
Mr. Speaker, for the first time the regiment will conduct a second recruit training camp within a calendar year. A six-week campaign was run to encourage civilians to make the transition to military life. More than 25 people have begun the enlistment process and it is estimated that 25 will start the camp.
Mr. Speaker, with 42 recruits starting in January, this is estimated to bring the recruit intake for the year up to 67 recruits, which is in line with the volunteer intake in 2017 and 2016. The Regiment's strength currently stands at 343, which it deems sufficient to conduct its mission and task.
Mr. Speaker, the Regiment has seen a decline in Band Members. In order to counter the decline of musicians entering the RBR and to ensure the sustainability of the Band the RBR has instituted a Junior Musicians program. The program, which currently has 20 participants, allows high school aged musicians to perform with the Band and be paid for it.
We are grateful for the RBR's support during the MS Amlin Word Triathlon Series Event in April. In order to ensure the safety of both the public and athletes, 49 soldiers were field, including marshals, rescue swimmers, boats and a liaison officers at the event control center. The event organizer covered direct costs associated with the RBR's participation.
Mr. Speaker, the RBR has a significant role in the safety of Bermuda. The Ministry of National Security remains committed to supporting the Regiment through its transition to an all-volunteer force.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.