By FARRAH JOHNSON
MORE than a hundred new recruits were inducted into the Royal Bahamas Defence Force during a passing out parade at HMBS Coral Harbour on Friday.
After successfully completing the RBDF’s military recruitment training programme and obtaining certifications in swimming, first-aid, naval infantry and military martial arts, New Entry 56, consisting of 98 men, and Woman Entry 25, made up of nine women, were officially welcomed to the force.
Presenting the keynote address, National Security Minister Marvin Dames commended the graduates for their hard work and encouraged them to “take pride” in themselves, their country and the organisation they were now representing.
“Over the past 17 weeks, you endured the rigors of recruit training including an extensive curriculum and achieved multiple qualifications,” he said.
“You responded to your military indoctrination in the same spirit of your motto: ‘No Quit 56...Always Strive 25’(and) all 107 of you...have earned the right to be commissioned as marines.”
Mr Dames said the graduates chose a “noble” profession that was not fit for the “faint of heart,” and encouraged them to strive to be “positive influences” who contribute to nation building.
“Historically, less than one percent of The Bahamas’ population has had the privilege of serving in our country’s military and you must be commended for answering the call to naval service,” he told the graduates.
“Your pledge to guard our heritage will necessitate the protection of our nation against the transnational threats of human and gun smuggling, poaching, drug trafficking...the potential for maritime and land based terrorism and assisting in providing relief to your fellow citizens during times of disaster.”
Mr Dames told the recruits that they had joined the force just as it was entering a “new era of modernisation with the decentralisation of its operations.”
He explained that the decentralisation programme involves the “restructuring and redevelopment of new strategies and technologies,” that will allow officers to address present “challenges” and ensure they can “effectively execute” their mandate accordingly.
“The Bahamas government is committed to supporting the Defence Force in its efforts to fulfil it’s five major strategic roles over the next several years for the decentralisation of the places in the northern, the central and southern Bahamas,” he said.
“[This includes] the transformation of its human capital as a model of excellence and leadership, integrity and achievement, the mobilisation of its troops...the conservation of our environment and the regeneration of our nation’s youth into productive, responsible and employable citizens.”
Mr Dames confirmed the initiative is already in progress and noted the government has made provisions to establish a multi-agency drone programme to “enhance the reach of professionalism of law enforcement agencies and crime reduction” in the country.
He also revealed that mobile container units have already been purchased for the Ragged Island base and added that “modernisation and expansion” has already begun at the Inagua base, where the “country’s first ever” long range coastal radar was installed last April.
Congratulating the new entrees, Mr Dames reminded them of their various duties and responsibilities and urged them to continue to “uphold moral principles.”
“As an archipelagic nation boasting some 700 islands and cays and having the largest maritime domain in the region with over 100,000 square miles of water, maritime security remains paramount and you are charged with ensuring our nation’s defence through the protection of our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.