Former C/Os: Consider National Service System

March 13, 2014

A group of nine former Commanding Officers of the Bermuda Regiment released an analysis paper, saying they “strongly recommend that Section 4 of the Defence Act [which demands that the ranks of the Regiment be filled first with volunteers, then by conscription if the number of volunteers is not sufficient] should be left as it is.”

“If it is agreed that we wish to retain a Regiment that is fit for its roles then it must be accepted that the Regiment has to be at least 400 strong. Given demographic trends and a poor history of volunteerism, the risk that the strength cannot be sustained by volunteers is very high,” said the paper.

“A longstanding criticism of the present system of conscription is that it allows many to escape service completely, whether for medical reasons, for educational reasons or by virtue of some other type of unfitness for military service.

“It may be that a system of National Service, requiring all our young people to take part, but allowing them some choice as to what type of service is performed, will be thought a fairer way,” noted the Colonels.

warwick-camp-regiment-generic banner

The group include nine of the eleven living former Commanding Officers: Lt Col Michael Darling, Lt Col CE Raynor, Lt Col Gavin Shorto, Lt Col Allan Rance, Lt Col Patrick Outerbridge, Lt Col David Gibbons, Lt Col William White and Lt Col Brian Gonsalves. Lt Col Brendan Hollis was initially not involved, but has joined the group recently. Lt Col Edward Lamb and Lt Col David Burch are the two remaining COs who are not involved.

Conscription first began in Bermuda under the all white Bermuda Rifles in 1957, and the all black Bermuda Militia Artillery began conscripting in 1960. The integrated Bermuda Regiment, which started in 1965, began with conscription in place.

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.”

Larry Marshall Sr. — well known for his work with the anti-conscription group Bermudians Against the Draft — has previously put forward his ideas related to removing conscription while handling tasks the Bermuda Regiment presently does.

The full paper from the nine ex-Commanding Officers follows below [PDF here]:

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  1. Larry Marshall Responds To “The Nine Colonels” | | March 20, 2014
  1. sage says:

    How about NO.

  2. Starting point says:

    “If it is agreed that we wish to retain a Regiment that is fit for its roles”

    lol i think this is your first mistake..

  3. David Henry says:

    Love the idea of a National Service scheme. There are SO many ways our young men AND WOMEN can give back to the community.

    I get that as a general rule, Bermuda tends to live one generation in the past, but this all male conscription Veitnam era thing has got to end soon. My calendar says it’s 2014 which means 1970 was a long time ago sirs!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      I have been beating the National Service idea for a long long time. There are plenty of services which could use the help.

      At 18 you make your choice, your preference. If you don’t, the selection will be made for you. Chances are that the Regiment will have the least demand.

      Don’t know where the 400 figure comes from but it sure sounds high. What is needed? The band for sure. A drill squad for ceremonial duty. A marine section/riot section. We don’t need the Regiment for storm cleanup. Landscapers can take that on. W&E & Parks, if privatised can take on temporary staff under the National Service to cover that.

      A hard look needs to be given to the Regiment. Millions cannot continue to be spent with not much to show for it.

      • jt says:

        The 400 might have more to do with maintaining present levels of commanding officers. It is a very high percentage of the Bermudian population.

      • Hmmm says:

        I do not think any of the ex or current C/O’s should have anything to do with a national service scheme. should be run by Centre of Philanthropy (or similar) who coordinate Charities needs with resource.

    • wondering says:

      I like your thinking mate

  4. CC says:

    The rationale makes sense but the proposed method of fulfillment is dated. Forced choice is no where near the same as volunteering!!

    ““It may be that a system of National Service, requiring all our young people to take part, but allowing them some choice as to what type of service is performed, will be thought a fairer way,” noted the Colonels.”

    So Gentlemen, where are the alternative options for service? No mention of them in your proposal, other than divisions within the Regiment itself. Your proposal appears 100% focused on maintaining Regimental numbers only. No mention of alternative services such as St. John Ambulance, Police Reserves, etc.

    Put up an offer to become a career soldier and you might have more success in getting your Regimental numbers up – whilst creating a number of full time jobs. Perhaps this will allow Section 4 of the Defense Act to be ratified AND enable a full complement to be maintained at Warwick Camp.

  5. rj says:

    Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

    Here I am worried and wondering when they’re going to come knocking on my door or if they’re going to come to my job and get me.

    I am a human, and I have rights.

    But obviously not according to them.

  6. hmmm says:

    How about Trash clean up and site clean up….
    youth then see the disgusting habits, dumping people do and begin to take pride in their island…they will be less likely to dump and have pride in their achievement and beautiful country.

    End the regiment NOW. WASTE of money

  7. rj says:

    I actually had 3 older adults tell me there is nothing wrong with it and that I have to go because its my duty.

    Go figure, 2 were women and one never went because he lived abroad at the time.

    Its okay when BIU leader Chris likens the transport services new title as an essential service to “going back to slavery”… But when Larry Marshal says conscription is slavery everyone loses their minds..

    And we wonder why no one wants to visit our s$$$ty little island?

    The public transport employees have more rights than conscriots … Oh wait, we don’t have rights.. We are f$$$ing conscripts.

  8. Hmmmmm says:

    Having served under 6 of these dreamers it is no surprise to me that they are so late to this party. The ship has sailed on this one guys. You should be more focused on explaining to the country how you allowed the Regiment to once again become a British army outpost. There must be at least 10 Brits in Warwick Camp now and that’s thanks to most of you and a certain Defence Board chairman. A few mea culpas would go a long way towards improving your credibility with the rank and file.

  9. watching says:

    Wasn’t this idea brought up by Dr Brown? Where was the support for it then? Now all of a sudden these C/Os all support it?

    • wondering says:

      you are so right and the group of dreamers didn’t make an audible peep. they sat back and waited to see what happened

    • hmmm says:

      No, I don’t remember it

  10. wondering says:

    this document is clearly written from the most current information available – and seems spearheaded by B Gonsalez himself. this speaks to institutionalized racism all over…….if you have to have 50% of all ale births a year to sustain the regiment to volunteer, then what about getting my education? it appears that the regiment is more important to these bunch of has beens that the overall well being of our country!

    what it doesn’t tell you is that the current commissioner of police would never allow the regiment to do its more combative role of being armed with live rounds on the streets of Bermuda because he does not support uncertified firearms operators – ask anyone about the judgemental training that his officers have to do in order to be firearm certified.

    ask him how often his firearms officers have to train in order to ensure that before they pull the trigger that they are 1000% justified in doing so.

    ask any CO if they can justifiably defend any one of their soldiers who may have to use deadly force.

    answer is – they can’t!

    why not you may ask?

    because the courts of this land have no substantial legislation that has been tested in these scenarios and saying that we are linked to Britain or we use “best practice” isn’t good enough.

    fact of the matter is is that the only one black colonel in the bunch is a relic of yesteryear and didn’t do much for this social mixer that many like to call the regiment.

    social mixer – go to Cup Match “coe” or boat races or any construction site or to the Non Mariners if you want to mix it up and even then you will see situational racism at its best.

    excuse the terms but the “white bies” will hang together with a few “black guys” in between and then there will be the mixed groups who hang together because they have like interests – in some cases it my be an illegal substance.

    end of the day the regiment is almost a misnomer as Bermuda has changed and the reasons why we will have civil unrest won’t be because of the fact that perceivably innocent men were executed. it will be on a more economic basis than social basis.

    the regiment doesn’t need to go (Larry Marshall of BAD said that!!)

    it needs to evolve.

    what these CO’s haven’t said is that it will eliminate the 50k – 150k salaries for a bunch of people who wouldn’t command a salary in the real world equivalent because there simply isn’t a need for their skills and some of them wouldn’t event make it in the door (Buddy)!

    • wondering says:

      what I failed to state is that effectively – the commissioner has reduced the regiment to static guard duty with the police maintaining supremacy as a result of firemarms. BG won’t tell you that his cousin hurt his feelings when he told him that no regiment would be sanctioned under his powers to “go live” in times of need for the regiment’s service in the true sense of the word.

      we have piled millions of dollars into an outdated system and unfortunately for the permanent staff members they will have to ensure that they have a good pension plan when this all goes bust because they are not represented in the superannuation act appropriately and they will not be walking into a top paying job like the 100k that they have now.

      heck – one person was emigrating to another country and then the recession hit – they came running right back home and got married as soon as they found out they were getting a cushy permanent staff job to do sweet eff all!!

      hope ppl have their mortgages paid up – regiment is on the chopping block mate

  11. Mike (really aint my Name) says:

    Bring this nonsense to my door and i will reply with the most ruthlessness of violence. Bermuda Regiment is a Joke along with the Government and any other dingbats that agree with this madness.. GLAD i live foreign

  12. watchfuleyes says:

    There has been a lot of marching taking place on this Island in the last few months- maybe we need to march to end conscription, it is well overdue and we are tired of going around in circles. Let this be the one promise the OBA make good on!!

  13. Coffee says:

    AHHH… So Larry Marshall , please tells us again why Michael Dunkley sat on your couch at least nineteen different times prior to the election of 2013 ?

  14. Jon says:

    I think it’s a good idea… what’s all this nonsense people talking about it being ‘slavery…’ like your country owes you something. What’s so wrong with doing some work for the public good at the beginning of your adult life, whether Ambulance, Regiment or whatever?

    • Hmmm says:

      Work for the public good yes, but not work for works sake with not tangible end product.

  15. Mass Attraction says:

    Kind of like 300 years ago when a bunch of men sat around a table and decided they wanted to force people into slavery against their will.

    Since when, do people get such power to negatively affect people’s lives?

    What kind of backwards world do we live in?

    Who do these ‘people’ think they are?

    I do not want to be you people in the life to come!

  16. Einstein says:

    I guarantee that if regiment staff were psychologically evaluated they would all be found to have SUPERIORITY COMPLEX, and other nasty conditions which explain every thread of their personalities! And this goes for any country not just here!

    People with these disorders crave control so much, and that is why they gravitate to these jobs, so they can control and subjugate others who they deem as LESSERS.

  17. small man says:

    They should be made to account for the various forms of abuse that occurred under their command.