The Barbados Defence Force has come in for high praise for its assistance to the police in their efforts to reduce gun crime on the island.
Attorney General Dale Marshall said the mission, which began on January 14 this year, has so far deployed 853 joint gun interdiction patrols.
“This reinforcing effort has had a positive effect through building public confidence, deterring acts of crime and overall reducing the level of gun crime. The patrol programme has set favourable conditions therefore, to enable and empower additional strategies to be employed by the police force,” Marshall told the BDF’s 40th anniversary parade on Saturday.
He also noted that in maritime operations, the Force has interdicted 2.9 tonnes of marijuana and 40.7 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated combined street value of more than $26 million.
“The unit conducted 847 patrols covering some 20,725 nautical miles and executed 70 search and rescue operations. Our military service persons continue to do what is best for the safety of the Barbadian public and our Caribbean neighbours,” Marshall stated.
He added that the continued support from the Barbados Coast Guard will also be needed in protecting the interests of the country as government pursues its agenda for the development of the Blue economy.
“The contemporary threatening environment is complex and demands a multi-disciplinary, multi-national network strategic response. And in treating to them there must be a whole of government approach that leverages the legal, social, economic, law enforcement and our defence systems.
“In addition to the global risk and threats presented by transnational criminal organisations and terrorist entities it is important for the BDF to be part of the increasing of our security apparatus. We need the military to assist us in stabilising Barbados as well during a disaster crisis,” he added.
The BDF has also implemented programmes to assist with youth development through the Barbados Cadet Corps, and Marshall hailed moves to expand the sea cadet unit including mentorship programmes at the Edna Nicholls Centre, and a soon to be launched programme at the Westbury Primary School.
“As far as the sea cadets go, I am pleased to announce that the first intake to increase the size of the sea cadets to a 1,000 strong element has started training and will graduate to the ranks of the Barbados Cadet Corps at month-end. A second intake will start in September and subsequent cohorts will continue until the goal is achieved,” he noted.
Additionally the BDF is in the advanced stages of developing a competence-based education and training system which will see the Force securing registration with the Barbados Accreditation Council as a registered tertiary institution.
“Ultimately the achievement of full accreditation with the Council will see the Force as an awarding body for national and regional vocational training qualifications. And in collaboration with the TVET Council, will be offering several Caribbean vocational qualifications to include management, leadership, providing security services, among others,” Marshall told the audience.
He also announced that the Force will lead the establishment of the National Youth Advanced Corps, which was announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley last Thursday.
According to him this programme aims to align with the three-pronged national initiative, including providing for further learning in a disciplined environment.
“The corps will also make a meaningful intervention to create opportunities to inculcate positive behaviour, continue the learning process and reinforce citizenship and the responsibilities to putting others above self.
“Perhaps most importantly the corps will strive to make each participant a more effective and productive member of society,” Marshall said.
The Attorney General congratulated the Force for serving with distinction over the past four decades, and called on members to remain unified and loyal to the organisation and each other. (MCW)