Defence force bases planned for late 2018

Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines are inspected by Commodore, Tellis Bethel at the RBDF base last Friday. (Photo credits: RBDF)
The country’s military arm is set for a major boost as it has plans to expand and construct bases in Inagua and Ragged Island to sustain long-term deployments of its ships and aircraft.
The news came as members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) were encouraged to “hold the line” last Friday by RBDF Commodore, Tellis Bethel, at the base’s first ceremonial Divisions for 2018.

Commodore, Tellis Bethel, inspects the troops at the first Divisions of 2018.

The new bases will provide immediate response to poaching as well as illicit smuggling activities originating in the southern Bahamas.

RBDF marines worked with other law enforcement officials to apprehend some 1,300 migrants including the disruption of a suspected international migrant smuggling operation in 2017.

The ceremonial Divisions provided Commodore Bethel the opportunity to inform his officers and marines of his intent for the year, and to address challenges and concerns of the Force with solutions to overcome them. He also thanked troops for their service and accomplishments during the past year.

The RBDF is also moving forward with plans to enhance its communications, detection, tracking and interdiction capabilities. Initial work has commenced on the installation of a coastal radar system while plans are also underway for the acquisition of an island-wide ‘Motorbro’ radio communication system, along with an Automated Identification System for identifying vessels in Bahamian waters.

These programs are being funded by the U.S. State Department under its Foreign Military Sales programme.

While expressing concern for the recent landing of a Haitian sloop, for which a Board of Inquiry will be convened to investigate, Commodore Bethel applauded his men and women for the successes they did achieve in exercising their powers as peace officers, customs officers, immigration officers, fisheries inspectors, port security officers, national emergency managers and much more.

High on the list of priorities is the accelerated recruitment of personnel. The force currently operates at a shortfall of over 500 according to a recent human capital audit conducted at the base. In January of this year, 120 persons had commenced recruit training.

Other short term goals shared by the commodore included the Prime Minister’s, Dr. the Hon Hubert Minnis. and the Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames’, intent for the force to develop and coordinate a national multi-law enforcement agency drone program. There are also plans for a national multi-law enforcement agency coastal security program to address the problem of changing modes of operations by those engaged in criminal activities on and offshore.