Scores of Royal Bahamas Defence Force Officers, Senior Rates, Junior Enlisted, Recruits and Rangers, led by Commander Defence Force, Commodore Tellis Bethel, fully regaled in their official ceremonial dress, showed up and out at the Defence Force’s annual Church Service held on Sunday 11 March 2018, as the Defence Force approaches its 38th Anniversary. (See Gallery Below)
Hosted at the New Destiny Baptist Church under the pastoral leadership of Bishop Delton Fernander, the Officers and Marines were serenaded by the talented ensemble led by Petty Officer Eunice Rolle. Members of the Defence Force were reminded of their achievements over the past years and plans for the upcoming years to address the challenges. They offered gratitude to God for his protection and prayed for his continual guidance as they exert efforts on our front lines to promote the peace, security and prosperity of our nation and the region.
In attendance at the service commemorating the approach of the Force’s 38th anniversary of official existence on 31 March was the Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling; and the Minister responsible for National Security, the Honourable Marvin Dames.
Also in attendance were esteemed leaders of other security forces–the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ferguson, the Comptroller of Customs, Dr. Geannine Moss, the Commissioner of Department of Correctional Services, Mr. Patrick Wright, and the Director of Immigration, Mr. Clarence Russell, as well as Director of the National Emergency Management, Captain Stephen Russell–along with their members, and officials from other government agencies and private institutions, reflecting accurately the Defence Force’s theme for the next several years, “Security through Partnership”.
Minister Dames in his address established that “this small, island-nation possesses the largest maritime domain within the English-speaking Caribbean Region with an expanse equal in size to the maritime domain of the entire chain of countries and territories in the eastern Caribbean. In addition to its traditional roles of anti-smuggling, poaching, search and rescue, and disaster relief operations, the Defence Force is called upon to provide security assistance to over 20 Government and non-Government agencies, some of whom are represented here today.
The Minister also thanked the Force on behalf of the government of The Bahamas for their successes in capturing a drug smuggling vessel and smugglers with almost one and a half million dollars of drugs, apprehending (or assisting with the apprehension of 1,300 migrants), and rescuing (or assisting in rescuing) over 60 persons at sea last year.
Moving forward, he revealed that “the security of our southernmost borders is a top priority for The Bahamas Government as most illicit maritime activities that do take place in The Bahamas gain access through our southern borders.” Minister Dames emphasized the drone program coming on stream during the next half of the year; the construction of a modern Barracks at the Inagua Base during this budget period and the construction of a base at Ragged Island during the 2018/19 fiscal period; increased recruitment, skill enhancement as well as incentives as merit based promotions and allowances for Defence Force personnel. Strategic measures to be undertaken by the Defence Force is the rolling out of its multi-million dollar communications, detection, tracking and interdiction programs such as a coastal radar program and the installation of Over-the-Horizon Tactical Tracking System with funding and technical support provided by the US State Department, in addition to dialogue between the Commander Defence Force and the head of the Haitian Coast guard for the purpose of reducing human smuggling.
Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Bahamas Christian Council delivered the riveting sermon that urged the Officers and Marines to choose the higher calling in the execution of their duties, a concept he termed ‘a national cause’. He urged members of security forces and the Defence Force, in particular, to maximize the use of resources at hand to protect our nation, adding that while the challenges that confront us may be of concern, they should never intimidate us as a people knowing that God is a way-maker.
The Parade Commander for the event was Lieutenant Commander Reno Major, assisted by Senior Lieutenant Andrew Bowe who marched the troops from the church onto Prince Charles Drive, travelling west on Prince Charles Drive and concluded on the grounds of the R. M. Bailey Senior High School Park.
The Defence Force was formed on 31 March 1980 by an Act of Parliament as one of the essential institutions required to govern an independent nation.