Letter: Tellis Bethel should never have been Commodore

Letter: Tellis Bethel should never have been Commodore

Dear Editor,

I am not exactly sure if people still read these, but here I am writing it and I thank you for actually publishing it. I trust I shan’t be long winded but if I am, I beg your indulgence early.

If I were the person responsible for the restructuring of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force today – it would be a “clean sweep”.

My executive team would consist of no one above the rank of Lieutenant Commander presently, and let me not be coy, as I have already stated publicly, William Sturrup, Glen McPhee and Samantha Hart would be my leadership team to take the Royal Bahamas Defence Force into its next evolution.

Before I continue further, I wish to state that Commodore Bethel will possibly go down in history as the commander that we all hate to see go but we are happy to watch leave.

The consensus among the deck is clear, Bethel should never have been Commodore. Coupled with that, he was dealt a rather unfortunate set of circumstances.

Bethel inherited a conundrum from a disastrous predecessor, with a skillset and ability that was inadequate to successfully maneuver him past it and personal ambition that blinded him to his inadequacies.

While no one believed that Bethel should have been Commodore, Bethel wanted to be Commodore, for what I could only imagine, was him ticking off a checklist and achieving the apex of Maslow’s theory; with the self-actualization the position brought.

I intend to move on swiftly, but not before I take the opportunity to say to Bethel, I told you so.

I told Commodore Bethel that if he cheapened the position of Commander Defence Force, with the antics he displayed while he was acting as Commander Defence Force, then so would his civilian commanders.

Although not my first choice, I do intend to support the tenure of Captain King and before I be considered mercurial or truculent, I wish to offer you this.

Captain King, although from the same time, is somehow magically from a different class. Interestingly, 16 years ago when I enlisted, Commodore Bethel would have been a Lieutenant-Commander and Captain King at the time, a Lieutenant.

What we all knew at that time, 16 years ago, was that the strength of the Force’s future wasn’t in the Force’s captains and commanders, but actually in the men that were senior lieutenants and lieutenants at the time.

Surprisingly, Captain King, in my mind, is now being given an opportunity to have oversight over a situation similar to the one that he was in when I met him 16 years ago.

If he’s going to see success, I believe there are some integral things he will have to do in order to ensure that he recovers the force from where both his predecessors have left it, before he runs out of time.

It is public knowledge that he is married to a Chief Petty Officer, my first recommendation is that he fires his wife. Notice, I did not say, put her on pre-retirement leave or send her on vacation or send her on study leave or on secondment.

He should simply no longer require her service, honorably discharge her and have the treasury of the Bahamas deal with all her emoluments based on that decision. I believe it sends the message that the Captain is a man that has no desire in having interest that would or possibly could conflict him.

Secondly, he should reappoint his Captain of Coral Harbour, and have the officer serve as his regional Commander for the Southern and Central Bahamas.

I suggest the most competent administrative officer of his peers – Commander Pinder.

Why you ask?

A shuffle like this shows that while Captain King is serious about rebuilding and restoration, in the North at this time; he is equally minded about the general mandate of the force, which is the protection of the territorial boundaries of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas particularly at our porous Southern border.

His next order of business should be to realize that this organization has suffered from piss poor public relations over the past 8 years. Actually, it has been dismal to say it gently. I cannot say this intently enough; the acting Commander will need a sound public relations officer.

Hopefully Captain King gets it, that amidst all the confusion and the absolute destruction in the country’s second and third city; burdened with the fact that civil unrest in Haiti continues to mount, it is expected that there will in short order be a regatta coming from the South and he cannot be seen to be tripping over his feet.

I am hard-pressed to believe there could be a better man for that job in my mind than Senior Lieutenant Glen McPhee.

Once he’s gotten that, I think there is one more step before his transition begins to become more easy. I strongly recommend that Captain King assembles a team of enlisted and possibly retired infantry and infiltration men and have them take a look into the infamous Government House breach.

My next recommendation would be a captains and commanders’ department of policy, procedures and practices. Admittedly, it is unheard of in this force, but I believe it would be the best use of time and knowledge found in our senior ranks.

Given oversight, by Captain Clarke, and five of the remaining Commanders; Captain King could begin doing what his predecessors failed at; that is, the transition of the force leadership and creating the force of tomorrow by ensuring these men and women pour the 35 to 40 years of institutional knowledge, training and investment made in them, into the ranks that will succeed them.

It would be nice to see Senior Lieutenant Samantha Hart and William Sturrup serve as assistants to the Captain Coral Harbour and Deputy Commander Defence Force respectively.

Attached to the policy, protocol and procedure department, should be a regulating officer of junior officers, responsible for standard bearing and deportment of all commissioned officers at the rank of Senior Lieutenant and below.

This is to ensure that the officers that will take the force into the future are actually getting it right. As a scholar himself, Captain King, I am sure can appreciate the need for training and retraining as this assures a standard and a culture is restored and maintained and ensures that we build optimum officers for the future. Lieutenant Commander Ferguson would undoubtedly be my choice for this billet.

A major concern is a scarcity of manpower in the organization. The new commander must use this opportunity to look at the viability of transitioning Coral Harbour base and all of its billets to a shift system, particularly during this building and recovery phase, post Dorian. Regrettably, the time has also come for the rescinding of study leave, because after all, this is a military, and in times of war or distress, we fight.

Lastly, it is my hope that after the Commander has acted in his role for 6 months, should he not be relieved of his duty, or confirmed by that time, he must put an ultimatum to the government, either to appoint him as the substantive Commander or fire him as the act would suggest.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is indeed a military, and as such, the people that serve in its uniform every day and are subjected to its rules, watch with hope to ensure that those they salute do not bastardize the rules for mere chicanery.

I am hopeful, that the new Commander never plays dress up like his predecessor and should the government refuse to appoint him in the prescribed time as suggested by the act, then I hope he requests that they appoint someone, but again, I pray to God, that the days of a man walking around, improperly dressed, flying an erroneous pennant and referring to himself as, “the captain of captains,” will soon be something we never even speak about anymore because in my mind, that is how we got in the situation that we are in now.

We found ourselves with a Commander that was busy playing children’s church.

Three cheers for Captain King; hip hip hip hooray!

Forever in allegiance,

Leyvon A. Miller III, JP.