By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
THE Royal Bahamas Defence Force welcomed 109 new recruits at the Passing Out ceremony of the New Entry 59 and Woman Entry 28 class at the Coral Harbour base on Friday.
This entry of 77 males and 32 females marked the largest intake of women in a mixed entry in the history of the Defence Force.
Acting National Security Minister Jomo Campbell applauded this historic moment.
“This entry has a complement of 109 recruits, 32 of which are females. This is the largest intake of females in a mixed entry in the history of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,” he said.
“This should be applauded, they should be applauded and encouraged. It demonstrates that we all have an interest in ensuring the safety of these islands and cays we call home,” Mr Campbell added.
Acting minister Campbell expressed his gratitude to the recruits for answering the “higher call to service”.
He offered words of encouragement to them as they embark on this new journey of becoming a Defence Force Marine.
“As you embark on life as a Defence Force Marine, I remind you of the core values of the RBDF, to have integrity, good values and a sound character,” he said.
“Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, to service over power, to principle over convenience, to the long run over the immediate. Be accountable and honest, for lies often give birth to chaos, but truth restores order. If you can’t be the bearer of the light of truth, at least don’t lie.”
During the Passing Out ceremony, the recruits showcased physical fitness, military drills and band skills.
The 16-week training course included modules in navigation, seamanship, weapons handling, the Defence Act and regulations, military martial arts, firefighting and communications.
RBDF Commodore Raymond King said: “Today’s exercise of New Entry 59 and Woman Entry 28 adds to our complement, as we aim towards a force strength of some 3,000 persons in order to adequately man our bases, our vessels and our outstations through the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
He said this entry is a refreshing replacement as the agency is faced with employee attrition.
Commodore King explained that a policy was implemented to ensure promotions and appointments reflect no less than 25 percent of the female marines in an effort to build the female population of the organisation.
“I also recently released a policy to ensure all decisions made - appointments, promotions, etc, reflect no less than 25 percent and for it to be scalable as we continue to build and increase our female complement in the organisation,” he said.