Marshall’s Submission For Regiment Reform

January 20, 2014

BAD Larry Marshall Sr Bermuda August 2011[Updated] Paying soldiers a decent wage and using crews from Works & Engineering for hurricane relief work are two of the ideas put forward by Larry Marshall Sr. of the anti-conscription group Bermudians Against the Draft to help transition the Bermuda Regiment to a volunteer force.

Mr Marshall said, “Presently conscripts are paid very low wages because they have no choice in the matter.

“However, in order to attract volunteers it would be necessary to offer pay on a level comparable to the other essential services, i.e. police, fire, and prison services.

“This is not only beneficial to the soldiers but it is also the right thing to do for a number of reasons.”

Speaking on hurricane relief work, Mr Marshall said we should not “burden the institution with hurricane relief as that is not what an army is supposed to do but rather what the Regiment has learned to do in order to justify its existence.”

“What I would suggest is an organization based on the US model of FEMA to fulfill this role. We could call it BEMA and it would consist primarily of crews from Ag and Fish and Works and Engineering. I can send a separate paper on my ideas for elaboration,” added Mr Marshall.

Conscription has been in effect since 1957, however both political parties have spoken in favour of abolishing conscription, and the intent to abolish it has been included in the last three Throne Speeches.

National Security Minister Michael Dunkley is on record as supporting the move to a volunteer Regiment, previously saying that “no one can question my commitment and that of the Government to the elimination of conscription.”

“Conscription will be eliminated and the Regiment preserved. It will happen this session and the timelines will be set to reflect the future requirements of the institution and not any version of its past,” said the Minister.

Not everyone agrees, with eight former Commanding Officers of the Bermuda Regiment have coming out in support of conscription, saying that “to abolish conscription is not in the best interests of Bermuda.”

Mr Marshall’s submission was sent first to Minister Dunkley on February 1, 2013 and then to the Security and Defence Review Committee on September 29, 2013.

The full submission follows below:

These are my proposals for a reformed regiment based on a part time model similar to what we have now. The major difference of course would be that it would no longer consist of conscripts but rather volunteers. This would mean proper pay, proper training, and proper treatment. They will be addressed accordingly and in that order.

1] Proper Pay

Presently conscripts are paid very low wages because they have no choice in the matter. However, in order to attract volunteers it would be necessary to offer pay on a level comparable to the other essential services,i.e. police, fire, and prison services. This is not only beneficial to the soldiers but it is also the right thing to do for a number of reasons.

To put this in perspective consider what type of police service we would have if the wages offered were as low as what conscripts are presently paid. Same for the fire service.

Historically the Regiment has never come close to reaching it’s full potential simply because it has been hamstrung by the current system more specifically the low wages. Moving forward the current Government must rectify this by providing good wages. Below is a skeletal model of what I believe to be a very good starting point. Again it is based on the present model of a part time army we already have.

  • Boot Camp- 16hr. days @ $30.00 an hour for a period of 13 days = $6,240.
  • Drill Nights- 4hrs x 36 nights [Preparation for parades] = $4,320
  • Weekend Camps-20hrs x 6 [$500 per weekend camp] = $3,600
  • Total =$14,160

For convenience sake we can round that figure up to $15,000. With an estimated 200 recruits required that would total $3,000,000 per year which is not much to spend on wages for an essential service. This does not include the wages for the officers which is now about $3,500,000. That would obviously be reduced over time as the number of officers required would decrease.

You can imagine the interest generated by an ad which promises $6,240 for boot camp alone. I am convinced you will be inundated with more than sufficient numbers simply by offering proper pay alone. However, when proper training is included in the equation it will attract even greater numbers. Right now the Regiment is offering a $300 bonus for joining which, with all due respect, is an insult. [On January 12, 2014, the Regiment claimed that there were forty volunteers. That was with the deplorably low hourly rate of $7.50].

2] Proper Training

First we ask the question what are they training for. What roles does the current Regiment fill. They are as follows:

  • 1] Ceremonial
  • 2] Hurricane Relief
  • 3] Internal Security
  • 4] External Security

In the reformed regiment I would not burden the institution with hurricane relief as that is not what an army is supposed to do but rather what the Regiment has learned to do in order to justify its existence. What I would suggest is an organization based on the US model of FEMA to fulfill this role. We could call it BEMA and it would consist primarily of crews from Ag and Fish and Works and Engineering. I can send a separate paper on my ideas for elaboration.

That said let’s consider the training required for the other three roles.

1] Ceremonial

The band would provide the basis for this, as it does presently, thereby enabling the regiment to recruit from able musicians particularly those who are studying music at the high school level.

2] Internal Security

This would require more soldiering skills such as shooting, riot control etc. The maritime division would also come into play in order to assist the police with drug interdiction on the seas. Someone with a military background could elaborate on these skills. I cannot.

3] External Security

Same skills as those required for internal security with slight modification.

Irrespective of what role they specialize in an overall physical fitness program will be incorporated. At present this does not appear to be the case. The reformed regiment would require one to be physically fit for the obvious reason. If one is to defend their country they must be fit. The other essential services mandate fitness and this same criteria should be met by our soldiers.

One way to enhance this fitness program would be to enter regiment teams in various sporting leagues such as football, basketball and hockey.

3] Proper Treatment

In order to accomplish the aforementioned it is not necessary to “square bash.” The insults, filthy language etc. must become a thing of the past moving forward to insure our army evolves and becomes a place where young men and women want to be as opposed to somewhere they have to be.

This does not mean toughness is sacrificed in the process. You can produce tough soldiers without the abuse as the police service training program proves. Also consider that the US forces as well as those in Britain have actually moved away from this type of treatment. And keep in mind these are countries which have soldiers currently serving in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Furthermore when you look at other areas this is also apparent.

What sport is more demanding, more punishing than boxing. Yet trainers get the best out their fighters by showing them respect not disrespect. I am in no way suggesting “babying” the recruits just saying there needs to be balance.

Hopefully this can provide the basis on which to build on making the transition from an army of conscripts to one of volunteers. In my opinion it is not difficult at all and with work 2014′s boot camp hopefully will consist entirely of volunteers.

The problem has been that many in Bermuda have become so accustomed to conscription that they can’t see it’s abolition as a positive. What is interesting to note is that in 1971 Gibraltar made the transition from a conscript army to a volunteer army and are now head and shoulders above the Regiment.

I firmly believe the time has come for this to happen as Bermuda has exploited young men for far too long. Over the past couple of years there has been a considerable mind shift regarding this issue due to both the hard work of Bermudians Against the Draft and the announcement that the OBA does plan to move to a volunteer army.

-

Update 1.59pm: Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Scott said, “The PLP welcomes solutions for reform as we move forward with ending conscription and modernizing the Bermuda Regiment.

“While the options presented by Mr. Marshall and Bermudians Against the Draft are not the only options, they represent a starting point in the discussion of what an effective, 21st Century Bermuda Regiment looks like and how it operates. This discussion on the way forward must not, however be used as an excuse to further delay ending conscription.

“The PLP’s Abolition of Conscription Bill is ready and would have been debated if the OBA had collaborated with us and kept their promise to end conscription. If the OBA had worked with us last year, together we could have consigned conscription to the dustbin of history, but unfortunately, they refused to collaborate with us to move Bermuda forward.

“It is our hope that the coming Parliamentary session will see a change of heart within the OBA, that they will collaborate with us on our Bill and together we will end conscription once and for all.”

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  1. Observer says:

    Well said Mr Marshall considering the huge pay gap between the CO and privates.

    • Just Wondering says:

      How is that well said? He is pointing out an obvious thing, CO should be getting more than a privates. Just like a CEO gets more than a clerk.

      • Free-DUM says:

        Those under a CEO can most likely negotiate their pay, I don’t believe conscripts under a CO have that right.

        • Just Wondering says:

          Negotiate pay? really in a non-union job lol

          what is amusing is Mr. Marshall’s view on what the pay should be is close to what they get paid now, of course he for to factor in Health insurance, pention, payroll tax ect.

          • Jonathan Dill says:

            I disagree. Conscripted Regiment soldiers do not pay into a pension & are not offered Health Insurance. Government will pay health services for conscripts only under direct Regiment control and if the medical issue was caused by training. Conscripted Regiment soldiers are effectively part time workers since on average they work less then 15 hours per week.

            • Just Wondering says:

              Have you been in the Regiment? Cause the do take all that out.

              • What Grinds My Gears says:

                Not for part-time staff. And I have served as late as last year. Only thing that is deducted is Social Ins.

                • Just Wondering says:

                  funny i finished last year too and they did the last i checked. because that way if some one is injured and doesn’t have a job they still have health insurance and they can go to the regimental doctor.

          • Free-DUM says:

            Actually intelligent people know that non union jobs are the ones that are actually negotiable because unions jobs are already negotiated by the union.

            In the private sector it is the norm to negotiate terms of employment. If you have never negotiated your salary…WOW

            • Just Wondering says:

              nope, had the starting range and thats it so never negotiate…. or mabye i’m think too grand but meh. and thanks for insulting me considering we’re having a discussion.

              • Justonce says:

                You insult yourself by displaying a lack of understanding!The very fact that even in the private sector every employee agrees with the salary at the start of the job shows an ability to negotiate. Otherwise they can exercize the option not to start. Hope that is simple enough for you.

                • Just Wondering says:

                  that not really a negotiating pay but hey what ever, and it still insulting how you put it.

          • Justonce says:

            What’s amusing is just how wrong that statement actually is.

      • Betty Trump says:

        Great ideas by Mr. Marshall. Keep pushing on.

        While the options presented by Mr. Marshall and Bermudians Against the Draft are not the only options, they represent a starting point in the discussion of what an effective, 21st Century Bermuda Regiment looks like and how it operates. This discussion on the way forward must not, however be used as an excuse to further delay ending conscription.

        “The PLP’s Abolition of Conscription Bill is ready and would have been debated if the OBA had collaborated with us and kept their promise to end conscription. If the OBA had worked with us last year, together we could have consigned conscription to the dustbin of history, but unfortunately, they refused to collaborate with us to move Bermuda forward.

        I hope the UBPoba will live up to their promise of COLLABRATION and use the bill as laid out by the PLP, at least debate it !!

        • @ Betty Dump,PLP has a bill??where was that bill 14 years ago? and what’s the sense of doing away with the Regiment if you do not have something to replace it with..i did my 6 years and proud of the fact that i did, no regrets and many free trips.As for the pay scale we all know those at the bottom will all ways get paid the least,As i recall during the riots in the seventies, Bermuda got a bill from the Brits that was very high, for sending troops here ..If it was that important to the PLP at the time they was in power why did not the colonel klink Burch do something about it, when he was in government..Polotricks as usual!!!

        • spot2 says:

          why is she just repeating here what is already in the article above? smh

    • What Grinds My Gears says:

      Other than the pay increase, the Bda Regiment already conducts efficient and effective training. LM is making these recommendations because he doesn’t have a clear understanding on what the Regiment does within its gates. Regiment Public Order training is on par with the BPS public order and has been for many years now.

      Simply put, the Regiment is ready for any operational role that the Government puts forward. THE REAL ISSUE is that the Government and BPS do not whiling too or financially cannot afford to make them operational.

      • What Grinds My Gears says:

        Again, i say get rid of conscription and make the Bda Regiment full time and make them the security force of this island; that includes security ALL Gov buildings, schoolds, our waters and shores, etc……) Include all the $s spent on Government security contracts to BAS-SERCO, GET etc., with the Bda Regiments budget and you may have enough for a full time force.

      • Sisu says:

        “the Bda Regiment already conducts efficient and effective training” – LOL. You’re joking, right? In recruit camp I played hide and seek in the bushes off kilimanjaro. Marched in the rain and was told I couldn’t wear my supplied rain coat. And spent two weeks learning to dismantle my rifle and march in circles. Two weeks. Efficient? Me thinks not. And ask any conscript to pass his weapons handling test a few weeks after recruit camp is over and I bet majority would fail it. Multiple times. Heck, most can’t pass it on their first attempt when they’ve spent two weeks with their weapon 24/7! Or ask them to march on parade and not look like a complete idiot. It won’t happen. Effective? Definitely not. Or how about hurricane cleanup training. When do all soldiers train with chainsaws? Hint: they don’t. Only one company does that. Maybe if they’re lucky. And so we have 3/4 of our soldiers not trained to use chainsaws and therefore not able to help in times of need. Yet the regiment is “ready for any operational role”. Or how about sentry duty? How many guys fall asleep on sentry duty throughout their time in the regiment? And you want them to guard our most important assets? Notwithstanding the ridiculous idea that our politicians somehow need security, I wholeheartedly disagree with your statement that the regiment is “ready for any operational role”. The only thing they are ready for is dismissal time.

        • Justonce says:

          Well said from someone that has been there and recently. Like your style Sisu and most importantly your passion.Don’t back down.

  2. Bermuda Boy says:

    I wish I could keep this Marshall guy out of my life. If we had a Most Aggravating Person award, he would get it every time.

    • Free-DUM says:

      Why, because he actually stands for something and makes sense? One of the biggest problem’s with Bermuda society is that we too often lose the message because of the messenger. Read what he’s saying in the above objectively and you may actually see that it makes valid sense.

    • Sisu says:

      And yet you clicked on the article and took the time to comment. #secretcrush?

    • Care to comment on the article?

      • Free-DUM says:

        No they won’t comment on the article because they are too busy worrying about the messenger and not the message.

  3. watching says:

    Not bad ideas from Mr. Marshall.

  4. swing voter says:

    Why Larry?

  5. Stephen Thomson says:

    Well done Larry. Conscription in Bermuda is outdated and needs to end.
    The Government has committed to ending it “this session”.
    This must happen.

  6. WillSee says:

    ok, some good ideas that cost more money.
    where are we getting the money from Mr.Marshall?

  7. 1minute says:

    I am guessing that Larry is also against watching TV. All over the world, the first people in during a distaster; hurricane, flood, earthquake etc, are the military.
    Why add to the Government payroll by creating a FEMA type department

  8. Winnie Dread says:

    So what does the W&E and Parks Dept crews do before and/or after a nutural disaster? Did anyone see how soon Bermuda was up and running after Fabian for example, if we were to used only the Parks and W&E crews we would have taken way much more time…The regiment is used to suppliment the numbers so we can be up and running in less time…. Thanks for your valid suggestion not sure where you saw where the Min responsible say they are committed to ending conscription (and I actually think they will not flip flop on this)…. To end conscription does not happen overnight, ask the previous lot that was in for 14 years, was not done under thier watch….Everything takes time Sir and I understand your sentiments, but……

    • Sisu says:

      Ending conscription CAN happen overnight but we choose to place more of an emphasis on ‘how the regiment will cope with the changes’ instead of on ‘doing the right thing’. So what that 95% of the world doesn’t practice conscription. Or that many island nations like ours don’t even have a military force. The regiment are terrible at PR/attracting volunteers so we conscript to help them save face. We have no threat of invasion. Or any real threat of public disorder. Yet we need some 400+ soldiers to keep the regiment happy. Why? Why do we need to conscript young men to help cut down trees after a hurricane? And why aren’t ALL soldiers trained to use chainsaws in light of this fact? I think you will agree that the speed at which Fabian was cleaned up from came not from the regiment lending a helping hand, but instead from average Bermudians like you and me. Bermuda wouldn’t bat an eye if the regiment was dismantled overnight. Nobody would notice. And you and I and most others know that. Yet we continue down this path of idiocy so that a morally bankrupt institution can save face. For what? For what?

    • Winniw – I am with you the W&E cannot even keep the Ag Station in good shape how in Lord’s sake would they be able to handle a Hurricane??

  9. Truth is killin' me... says:

    That axe has got to be the sharpest in BERMY!

  10. clearasmud says:

    The most interesting thing I got from this article was that Mr. Marshall is finally agreeing that the regiment is essential!LOL

    “However, in order to attract volunteers it would be necessary to offer pay on a level comparable to the other essential services, i.e. police, fire, and prison services..

    • Free-DUM says:

      Is he agreeing that it’s essential or is he offering ideas as to how to make more essential?

  11. Question says:

    Finally – - some fruitful insight from Mr. Marshall instead of his usual hate and disgust for the Regiment. I read with mixed emotion but he fails to realize that people can’t get behind him NOW that he wants to change his tune in regards to the Regiment. Last year, the Regiment and conscription both needed to end immediately – but now, he believes that finding a way to make the Regiment full time is the best way forward – - what changed?

    We all agree that conscription should end – - never said anything otherwise. He needs to cease his attack on the Regiment and wait for the OBA to fulfill its promise to end conscription as that was the reason he created BAD – - not to destroy the Regiment. Yup – just sit in the corner and wait.

    Q

    • Free-DUM says:

      I believe Mr. Marshall has always claimed that what goes on in the Bermuda Regiment is a direct result of conscription. So if true, that would mean his attack on the institution is legit.

      Furthermore, if his attacks of the Bermuda Regiment have led to the public being more aware of the sexual assaults, low pay, treatment, and so on why are they such a bad thing.

      Mr. Marshall and his organization should be commended for taking this fight on and attacking the wrong doing that has gone on at Warwick Camp for so long.

      The Bermuda Regiment is a BAD (no pun intended) organization as long as conscription exist.

      • Question says:

        And your statement is full of contradictions that it is quite laughable. “What goes on in the Regiment is a direct result of conscription” – how could that even be possible? The Regiment is a result of numerous people making choices day in and day out – - how they get into the Regiment (i.e. conscription or volunteering) is just one very small part.

        The concept of sexual assaults, low pay and (I assume) bad treatment at the Regiment is the sole purpose of your post – and you indicate that BAD and Mr. Marshall highlighted those for the betterment of Bermuda – correct? Wrong – if you want me to believe that he did it solely to “inform” the community and to “right the wrongs”, sorry – ain’t gonna happen. He is hell bent on destroying the Regiment and those stories (some true and some unfounded) were simply bullets/ammunition he used because it was convenient.

        Your last statement is truly remarkable – “The Bermuda Regiment is a BAD (no pun intended) organization as long as conscription exist” Well, if we take Mr. Marshall’s logic into consideration, that’s a falsehood. The Bermuda Regiment is BAD period – because of all the things you have listed above (sexual assault, low pay, treatment, and don’t forget his favourite – forced slave labour) – not because of conscription.

        He and his organization cannot run from their past, as neither should the Regiment. He needs to stand by his words and realized that his attempts to destroy the organization has failed – and he should enjoy the battle he has won which is the end of conscription.

        So again I ask that he simply go in the corner and wait – soon come.

        Q

        • sisu says:

          “What goes on in the Regiment is a direct result of conscription” – how could that even be possible? Simple passa: the abuses of power, the intimidation, the lack of sharing of basic rights, the poor pay, the outright lies told, and the aura of invincibility from higher-ups are all direct results of the archaic system called conscription. When the regiment has the backing of government to conscript you into its ranks and is legally allowed to threaten you with charges/fines/extra days of service/violence if you don’t do what they say you quickly find that many get scared and shut up for fear of retribution. They have no reason to get better thanks to the government providing them a steady stream of hundreds of young men each year. Soldiers who are also not allowed to share certain experiences with outside news agencies, etc. And so a cloud of secrecy develops and the abuses of power get more widespread. And intimidation continues. And the assaults get more brazen. And democracy runs amok. Capiche? .

          • Soldier 1 says:

            That is utter nonsense!!!! Abuse of power… intimidation..lack of sharing basic rights, poor pay. The first day you come in the gate you have a 2 hour lecture on soldiers rights health and safety and the reporting system. Every soldier has the same rights inside the gate that they have outside the gate.POOR PAY…. The average private soldier gets 35 and hour. Most don’t even get that in their everyday job if they have one. In 2 weeks it’s close to 3000. Just like any other job if you break the rules that the establishment has in place you get bowled for it. If you come late, argue with your boss, or break something on the job, you will have repercussions.

    • Just once says:

      At the very start Marshall states that this is his proposal for a part time army. Please re-read for clarification as it seems you are commenting without the benfit of even reading the statement.

      • Question says:

        Just Once:

        My post is in regards to Mr. Marshall’s entire attack on the Regiment which spans years (not just this one statement) – - additionally, if you read my post you would see I made reference to that fact.

        Next.

        Q

  12. watchfuleyes says:

    Thanks Mr. Marshall, at least someone is taking the bull by the horn, everyone else is just giving lip service.
    @Bermuda Boy I would give you the Most Useless Comment Award. If you have nothing of value to offer then…
    @Free-Dum, well said, if Bermuda Boy has a better suggestion why doesn’t he contribute. When a person has no solution to offer they prefer to shoot the messenger, childish and silly at best.
    @Clearasmud, maybe you need some ‘visine’ because BAD has always taken the view point that the Regiment should remain,(if it must) but it’s in need of a serious revamping, and that face lift being the end of conscription. BAD has always contended that conscription is outdated, inhumane,and now both political parties have finally seen the light and agreed as well. Who would have thunk it? So lets get all the suggestions in and now sit back and see what excuse Dunkley will give for not implementing them and ending conscription.

  13. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    As much as Mr. Marshall is trying to do what he thinks is good, the niavety of his proposals lacks any great realism. Point 1 – who or what company would pay an employee, $30/hr to train them. This is not high level education being taught and your entire first year there is training, so as a recruit/private a 30$/hr pay scale is ludicrous amount for effectively being the level of an unskilled employee. As a former reluctant recruit (spent nearly a decade avoiding the service) i found the pay scale not to far off from the level of skill demanded, and they had actually just adjusted the pay scale to bringing them into line with like roles in other services.
    Point 2 – roles, he is quite incorrect as to the role armies around the world play in natural disaster recovery/relief. The army is often one of the first layers of support/response to these events. To maintain the resources in Ag & Fish and W&E to pick up the slack left without the regiment, is just not economically feasible. The additional overtime that would need to be paid would be make recovery slow and painful.
    More focus should be spent on better training programs within the roles offered, telecommunication and electrical engineering, mechanics, culinary, medical… There are already options now as it is, but they usually pretty basic.
    Point 3 – treatment… This point alone shows his complete lack of grasp on the very nature of the training required, that is still carried out in every army around the world. This fluffy, lovey, dovey notion he is trying to promote simply has no grasp in reality. There is no call for abuse in training, but one can not expect to have their hand held, the nature of the training requires the individual to reach deep into themselves to find their own strength to work through its demands. The friends and comradry that can be found does help.
    I did my time plus some more, and found it to be a good learning experience, both technically and personally, but then I went in with the attitude to use my time there as such. The regiment as it is, is very much a reflection of our society as a whole, this is because the random nature of the selection process brings in a reflection of our society as a whole, this is both it’s current strength and weakness.
    Should conscription end? Ultimately yes, it is should be the natural course of such an organization’s evolution. But Mr. Marshall’s, and BAD’s, notions on a whole reflect their one sided view of the institution. Even with that ignorance in mind, his proposals reflect a very naive notion, that fall short of what is required to evolve the Regiment. Perhaps if those in BAD had actually tried the Regiment, entered into it with a positive mind set, they might have been able to provide a better proposal than this fluff piece. In the end I simply can not support BAD as they would prefer to flaunt and use any negative item to come out of the regiment to selfishly denounce it, trashing and disrespecting the great goods that it has achieved and the good people there, who sacrifice of themselves to do those goods.

  14. I bet if you turned him upside down you would see that he is past his sell by date. Boring stuff again from Larry.

  15. Soldier 1 says:

    Its funny when new recruits do two weeks of training and they think they have the whole idea of what it is to be in the military. Falling asleep on sentry duty is very common through out any military force. I’ve served all over the world both training and operational during my time in the regiment and the training that i received is on par with all our sister regiments. When it comes to operating in bermuda the regiment can fulfill many roles. If the regiment did go full time many of you may be out of jobs. Plus every experienced soldier any where in the world would tell you in time of peace or when training leading up to a deployment, private soldier will play around, fall asleep on sentry,and make wrong judgments. But when he finally gets in the area of operation he is a totally different person….