9 Colonels On Public Perceptions Of Regiment

December 23, 2014

According to a recent poll, 76% of people said they support the need for The Bermuda Regiment, with residents aged 65 years and over more likely to support it, while residents aged 18-34 years were less likely to support it.

The poll was released by a group consisting of nine former Commanding Officers of the Bermuda Regiment: 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, Lt Col Brian Gonsalves and Lt Col Brendan Hollis.

The statement from the group said, “As you know, we support an all-volunteer Regiment, if it can be achieved. But we believe that chances should not be taken. Unless it can be demonstrated clearly, without equivocation, that volunteers will give us the Regiment that’s needed, Bermuda should keep conscription on the books.

“We must not allow ourselves to get into a situation in which the Regiment falls below its critical mass, because that will result in the unit dwindling quickly away to nothing.”

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 few Throne Speeches.

Earlier this year, Premier Michael Dunkley, who also serves as Minister of National Security, said: “The move to an all-volunteer force will not be without its challenges and the means by which the Government proposes to mitigate those challenges is through a phased end to conscription working towards the last ballot for recruits in 2015 for 2016’s Recruit Camp and a completion of service for those soldiers in 2019.”

The full statement from the ‘Nine Colonels’ is below:

Good morning. Thank you for coming.

The Royal Gazette commissioned a poll early in the summer to gauge support for the abolition of conscription. You may remember that 51 percent of people in that poll said they supported the move to eliminate conscription, while 39 percent said they were opposed. Ten percent were undecided.

According to the results, younger people were more likely to be in favour of abolishing conscription with 61 percent of people aged 18-34 agreeing that it should be scrapped and just 33 percent of people in that age group supporting conscription. That should have been no surprise to anyone.

We were disappointed that the poll did not go on to ask how many people supported keeping the Regiment in being, a question we felt was key to understanding public opinion on the subject.

Some weeks ago, the firm that did the polling for the Royal Gazette, Global Research, held another poll. At our request, they asked some questions about support for the Regiment. All of you have copies of the results.

We’ll let you go through these at your leisure, but we’d like to highlight the figures we think are particularly significant.

First Important Point.

On page 3 of the September poll, you will note that a total of 72 percent support the need for the Regiment. In October, that figure had risen to 76 percent. You might expect that.

But those who said they did not support the Regiment dropped from 23 percent to 17 percent. The undecided rose from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Taken together, those figures indicate a significant increase in support for the Regiment. We believe that the increase is not just because the publicity about the Regiment’s post-hurricane work made them prettier and more popular. It is, instead, because the hurricanes had a sobering effect. Suddenly, those who were polled had been given an opportunity to see clearly what the Regiment means to Bermuda, and how important it is that the unit should continue in being.

Second Point.

Let’s look particularly at support for the Regiment in the 18 to 34 age bracket. In the September poll, 60 percent supported the Regiment and 31 percent did not.

In the October poll, 69 percent supported the Regiment and only 21 percent did not. That’s a big shift. It is the biggest shift of all of the age brackets. Indeed, you’ll see that minds seem to have changed less and less as the respondents get older.

Again, we believe this is as a result of the sobering effect of the hurricanes. We believe also that it is an indication that younger people have a tendency to be affected by popular causes more than facts – a habit we can expect them to grow out of.

Third Point.

In September, you will see that the poll found that 50 percent of people supported the current manning of the Regiment through conscription. Thirty-eight percent opposed it, and 12 percent didn’t know how to answer the question. In December, 55 percent supported a conscription-fed Regiment, with 35 percent opposed. Eleven percent didn’t know.

These two sets of figures demonstrate to us that the greater the understanding of what the Regiment does, achieved in this case through the effect of Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo, the smaller the objection to conscription.

As you know, we support an all-volunteer Regiment, if it can be achieved. But we believe that chances should not be taken. Unless it can be demonstrated clearly, without equivocation, that volunteers will give us the Regiment that’s needed, Bermuda should keep conscription on the books. We must not allow ourselves to get into a situation in which the Regiment falls below its critical mass, because that will result in the unit dwindling quickly away to nothing.

Finally, it is worth pointing to what must be obvious. The Regiment enjoys very considerable support in the community. We would be surprised if there were many other groups in Bermuda with the same level of community support.

We should tell you that we have sent copies of the polling results to His Excellency the Governor, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. We hope they are assisted by them.

-

The full poll results from December 2014 follow below [PDF here]

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Comments (39)

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  1. Sisu says:

    Why does Bermuda need a military force?

    • serz doe says:

      okay, next hurricane, lets take away out regiment and see how quickly this island gets back to normal. i bet you’d be the first to complain.

      • MR. Wisdom says:

        You don’t need a military for hurricane clean up.

      • Sisu says:

        Right. Because a fighting army trained in combat is what we need to get back to normal after a hurricane.
        Perhaps we need just a group of ‘hurricane cleanup volunteers’ who could do the exact same job, at a 100% discount, without the mandatory weekly drill nights, and without the abuses that has taken place up at warwick camp.
        But no, according to you (and 76% of others) we need an army. Trained in warfare. Trained to kill. And trained to march oh so brilliantly in circles and shiny boots to clean up debris after a windstorm.
        ^ #makesperfectsense
        So let me rephrase my question for you: Why does Bermuda need a full-time military force when we have no external threats. Why does Bermuda need a full-time army to clean up from hurricanes once every ten years. Why does Bermuda need a full-time regiment to partake in ceremonial parades a few times a year? And why does Bermuda need a full-time group of soldiers to quell civil disobedience once every 50 years?
        Money is tight, I think we can all agree. So why not spend the $7m it costs to fund the boondoggle that is our regiment on areas of actual concern. Like policing. Or education. ?

        • Exactly says:

          I couldn’t agree more. My time in the regiment was the most time exhausting waste of Bermuda tax payers money ever. if they took half the budget of the regiment and set up a part time hurricane employment scheme people would be running to help clean up after the storms and the government would still have a few extra million in the bank. Smh

      • JAWS says:

        Don’t we have prisoners that are on good behavior that could replace the regiment in these times? Sorry forgot when these men are up WEST, it’s a holiday camp which tax payers are flipping 4.

    • JUNK YARD DOG says:

      Because it makes Men and Woman out of Boys and Girls.

      Be a man my son.

      Only a coward would hide behind his mother apron.

      It Builds self esteem.

      You will gain the respect you so richly deserve.

      You go in as a rough Stone and come out as a polished Diamond.

      It builds Leaders.

      It Teaches all that you think you did not know.

      It Teaches survival.

      It Teaches you how to overcome hard ship.

      It leaves you with a sense of great pride and admiration from your fellow man.

      For those who have just signed up congratulations you are in for the best time of your life.

  2. Coffee says:

    I’ll tell you what ! Stop payment on those retired Kernals fat pensions and their “perceptions” would do a head spinning 180 . I guess the input of people 35-64 yrs would be deemed irrelevant to this worthless poll that purposely excluded a significant percentage of males (Black and Portuguese descent) who would have gone through this senseless forced charitable 36 month sentence . If you are going to conduct a ******* poll , include everybody , but then again this is the OBA we are dealing with , the same wrong headed bunch who denied the electorate the privilege of a promised voice on gaming !
    After digesting and rejecting this rubbish from Michael Dunkeley , I’m convinced that the pool of intellect in the OBA is very shallow indeed . Have a Merry Christmas .

    • serengeti says:

      Conscription is unpopular, but the regiment is not.
      Even a moron can understand it. But not you, apparently.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      First of all this wasn’t the OBA that did this poll you dummy, always spoutin’ trash. Secondly, they did it and how do you know it didn’t include any black or portuguese descent in the polling? You’re an idiot for real…

      • Coffee says:

        Reading obviously isn’t a strong point for you two knuckle draggers . The poll was taken at the behest of the OBA gov. Like the SAGE COMMISSION . Lord I wish I was dealing with adults here, not grown imbeciles . So yes the OBA owns and sanctions this “poll” that purposely excluded males in the 35-64 age group .
        Now for the unintelligible secondly . I don’t have to guess that you are wandering , you are , and wandering aimlessly in the convoluted junkyard of your brain . The historical make up of the conscripts over the last 40yrs have primarily been of Portuguese and African descent . Go figure !

      • Coffee says:

        Reading obviously isn’t a strong point for you two silly people . The poll was taken at the behest of the OBA gov. Like the SAGE COMMISSION . Lord I wish I was dealing with adults here, not grown imbeciles . So yes the OBA owns and sanctions this “poll” that purposely excluded males in the 35-64 age group .
        Now for the unintelligible secondly . I don’t have to guess that you are wandering , you are , and wandering aimlessly in the convoluted junkyard of your brain . The historical make up of the conscripts over the last 40yrs have primarily been of Portuguese and African descent . Go figure !

        • Creamy says:

          The article says the original poll was commissioned by the Royal Gazette, and the second poll, conducted by the same polling firm, had some questions added at the suggestion of the group of Colonels. Nowhere does it say it was commissioned by the OBA.

          So it is now obvious who the imbicile is. The idiot. The moron. The brain-dead bigmouth who can’t read.

          • Joe says:

            Both the September and the December polls were commissioned by the Colonels themselves. They paid for them.

            • Forrest Gump says:

              Thank you, looks like the imbecile Coffee is wrong again. Also the make up over the last 40 years, you are correct, but I wonder why, maybe because the majority of people on this island are Portuguese or African descent ya dumb***! You need some more Coffee to wake up, all you are is decaf

    • Joe says:

      They’ve answered this before. None of them gets a pension from the Regiment. One gets a pension from Government, towards which his time as Regiment CO counted but not his time as a part timer.

      Being in the Regiment isn’t exactly a cushy number!

  3. sage says:

    Yawn.

  4. Stephen Thomson says:

    Supporting the Bermuda Regiment and supporting conscription are very separate things. The Regiment and its role has broad support in the community and we are all thankful for their service.
    Conscription is simply outdated, discriminatory as it only conscripts males and creates anger and ill will within the community.
    Virtually all armed forces in the free world today staff their military by way of paid positions. Bermuda should be no different.
    Do away with conscription. Its a throw back to a bygone era and must end.

  5. PBanks says:

    Well that’s a nice objective delivery of their poll results [/sarcasm]

    Extra nice touch in grouping “Top 2″ and highlighting that.

  6. jt says:

    I think the colonels would find similar numbers in favour of abolishing conscription. They can’t selectively attend to one group and expect to be well received.
    The tricky part of course is satisfying both majorities. What fresh and innovative ideas do they bring us?

  7. TSOL says:

    I dare any one of those nine so called colonels to call themselves that to a REAL colonel in either the U.S. or British armies who saw action in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    • Bill says:

      They did exactly the same training as the US and British colonels.

      • MR. Wisdom says:

        Hardly

      • Jus' Wonderin' says:

        The current one has been to Afghanistan so get ya facts straight before you talk trash…dummy! They all get trained by soldiers that have been there, etc. Guess we kno who’s scared to come camp…lmfao

        • Bill says:

          Jus Wonderin’

          Well said mate!

          Mr.Wisdom does not have any, and TSOL is out of luck with his comments

          TSOL……. I know what the SOL is….The T must be his first name!

        • The current one is not one of the nine so you get your facts straight!

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    Face it you lot, the Regiment as you know it is going to be history. Who are we fighting?

    All that is needed is a small dedicated National Guard made up of people who want to be there, not a huge unskilled landscaping company only needed on very rare occasions for very few days to clean up after a hurricane.

    Imagine only having a band, a skilled drill team, a platoon trained with the BPS for crowd control & marine patrol for special events & busy boating weekends.

    Conscription is another matter. Everyone from 18-25 not still getting an education should be required to do some sort of community service for a period of time. Take a pick from a variety of services & charitys needing help & get paid for it just like being conscripted into the Regiment.

    Some may find a lifelong activity outside of regular work that they enjoy doing giving back to the place they call home.

    • sialar says:

      Triangle Drifter, The Bermuda Regiment is already essential a ‘National Guard’, as it is an organisation that is there to assist the public after natural disasters and security roles.

      You also claim we only really need a “band, a skilled drill team, a platoon trained with the BPS for crowd control & marine patrol for special events & busy boating weekends”, so you just listed everything the regiment already does. Everyone knows of the army’s band and drill platoons because the public sees them on parade, but the regiment already has an Operational Support Unit (OSU) that trains with the police riot team and is the main operational platoon. The army’s Boat Troop is currently patrolling Bermuda’s waters on busy boating weekends and special events like you said.

      So your logic is that we replace the Regiment with, the Regiment?

      Everybody understands the Bermuda Regiment is in need a reform to be an even more efficient and effective organisation, but your naivety on this topic is disrespectful to those that current serve and do take it seriously, such as myself, because there are men and women up Warwick Camp that do generally care about making the most out of their training and serving their country for whatever reason.

      • Sisu says:

        I too am currently serving and take a different view than you. The regiment currently performs duties that don’t need any military-related personnel to be accomplished. Why the need for trained soldiers to march? Or clean debris after hurricanes? Or go on boat patrol? There isn’t one. These are tasks that the public see the regiment doing but are tasks that take place just a few times a year, if at all. What happens the other 364 days when we aren’t marching. Or cutting trees. Or on the water? Hint: not much. Replacing the regiment with ‘the regiment’ is a misnomer on your part because they could all just as easily be accomplished by volunteers, for free. So look beyond the ‘good’ the regiment does and you’ll quickly see that an armed force in Bermuda is a laughable situation; especially when the tasks you are so proud of involve marching. And cutting trees. And marching some more. Tasks so becoming of manly, trained soldiers. Why aren’t we fighting any wars again? Or at least defending our island against external enemies? Hint: because there is no need to. And by extension no need for a mitary force. Capiche?

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        You miss what I am getting at. The Regiment is too big. There is no reason for there not to be multitasking within the Regiment. How many boats does the Regiment have 3, 4? If there is a need for crowd control, as in riot, the boat people will not be out. The BPS move people from one section to another as needed. The Regiment can too. Right now we have a Regiment very near as large as the BPS. Why?

        I looked at the budget some time ago & was shocked to find that near as much was spent on the Regiment as the Fire Service. Call the Fire Service & they will come running in minutes. How fast can the Regiment respond? 24 hours minimum?

        Do you really need 100 out on the street less than 6 times a year for some ceremony when less than half of that number would do? A smaller, as much volunteer as possible, with motivated, multi talented people is needed.

        Right now the Regiment is much like the rest of the civil service. Much larger than it needs to be, top heavy, slow moving, hates change & very expensive to keep.

    • jonah says:

      Kinda had me for a minute but as usual you drift boss – focus!!

      So let’s see, if you are not in school you must be required to do some form of community service – you would have done rather well in the US South, circa 1940…

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        You lost me. What does the South & 1940 have to do with the Regiment?

        If you are in university studying for some profession like medical, legal, or other that takes years to complete, you cant be here too.

    • Bill says:

      Oh gosh, you’re still here!

      I thought you left for the airport to go home long ago!

  9. Terry says:

    Spot on sialar.
    Thanks for the opposite view which makes sense.

  10. chipp says:

    Mickie mouse army and who’s going to pay to up grade the out dated everything up there more
    with what money keep cracking these jokes they really not funny

  11. john doe says:

    The direction this island is going the regiment will br needed.

  12. John E. Thorne says:

    I support having a Bermuda Regiment but I do not support conscription because it is wrong and should be abolished as soon as practically possible. I do not care what the nine colonels think and they can fill the gaps themselves along with their family members both male and female.

  13. vocational training in ferries ,piloting,buses,could be paid vocational reserve service for emergancies or strikes when necessary…at the docks ,crane forklift trucking perishable goods.

  14. ImJustSayin says:

    The whole idea if this poll by these Regiment fanatics or former commanders is to sway opinion to keep conscription. No one is saying get rid of the regiment they are just saying it should be ones own choice to join or not, because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Make it attractive and lucrative enough for people to join. Scholarship’s etc…If you wanna be treated like a modern day slave then go ahead abd join.