Nine Colonels: ‘Regiment Is Now Under Strength’

March 12, 2018

[Updated] Noting that this year there were 40 volunteers, a group of nine former Commanding Officers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment said the Regiment is “now seriously under strength” adding that they feel the “abolition of conscription in Bermuda will lead to the ultimate demise and disappearance” of the Regiment.

On behalf of the Nine Colonels, Lt Col Allan Rance said, “Bermudians will remember the Nine Colonels group, made up of retired former Commanding Officers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

“The Nine Colonels took an active role in the debate in 2013 and 2014 that accompanied the proposal by the OBA Government to abolish conscripted national service and rely on volunteers to keep up the Regiment’s strength.

“We argued that it was unlikely that sufficient volunteers could be attracted from our small and shrinking population to maintain the numbers needed for the Regiment to fulfill its responsibilities.

“We warned that the Regiment had a critical mass, and that if manning fell significantly below the accepted optimum strength of 420 at all ranks, a process of collapse would begin which, in a few years, would result in the collapse and disappearance of the Royal Bermuda Regiment altogether.

“We supported the idea that Bermuda should try to keep up the Regiment’s numbers by recruiting volunteers. We felt it was an experiment that needed to be tried to establish once and for all whether it could work.

“But we thought it would be a mistake to abolish conscription legislatively. We thought that we should try volunteerism by simply changing to a recruitment policy while leaving a possible resort to conscription in our laws. If it didn’t work, conscription would be there as a back-up option.

“That seemed to us simple common sense, and we were delighted that the then-Premier, Hon Michael Dunkley, finally agreed with us and acted accordingly.

“Since then, the Regiment has tried very hard to recruit volunteers. It is hard to think of any method that they have not tried to attempt to encourage volunteers.

“We have now been through three recruitment cycles since that debate. The numbers have unfortunately got worse each year.

“The Regiment needs to recruit 120 men and women every year just to maintain its optimum strength. That number depends on the number who leave the Regiment every year but does not vary greatly.

“In 2015, the first year of the new policy, they managed to attract 65. In the second year, there were 60 volunteers. This year, the number dropped to 40. The Regiment intends to have another drive for recruits for a summer intake, but it is unlikely that many more volunteers will come forth.

“The Regiment is now seriously under strength. Its current size is 344 all ranks, not the 420 it should be. It is already unable to fulfill all the roles it is expected to be able to fulfill.

“Even now, the Regiment relies on its nucleus of longstanding officers, noncommissioned officers and men just to be able to continue. This group, while loyal, is ageing and over time will leave and the Regiment will further shrink by attrition.

“The new PLP Government has now stated that it intends to abolish the conscription legislation once and for all. Such a proposal is directly counter to the recommendations made by the independent National Security and Defense Review in 2014.

“That body, independently appointed by the Governor and made up of Bermudians from all walks of life and ably chaired by Leo Mills, recommended in the strongest terms that conscription needed to be maintained in order to preserve the now Royal Bermuda Regiment and thereby the safety and security of all Bermudians.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the findings of the National Security and Defense Review and are strongly of the view that the abolition of conscription in Bermuda will lead to the ultimate demise and disappearance of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.”‘

We asked the Government for a response and will update as able.

Update 7.58pm: Governor John Rankin said, “As Governor and Commander in chief I remain fully committed to maintaining the capacity of the Royal Bermuda Regiment to perform its duties in supporting the defence and security of Bermuda in line with modern requirements.

”In 2017 the Regiment played a key role in supporting the security arrangements for Bermuda’s successful hosting of the 35th America’s Cup and in deploying to the Turks and Caicos islands to assist in hurricane relief operations. Planning is now underway for the Regiment to undertake Inshore Coast Guard functions and to further enhance its Humanitarian and Disaster Relief capability.

”Active recruitment to the Regiment will continue in support of these goals, providing a well- trained and professional force to meet this island’s security needs.”

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Comments (41)

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  1. sandgrownan says:

    How about the nine colonels keep their opinions to themselves…we don’t want it…

    No indication of what optimum strength is, and for what purpose?

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    If you live east of White Hill your opinion does not count!

  3. Time Shall Tell says:

    How many tin soldiers marching Front Street & on call post hurricane gardeners do you think we really need? If the time should come for dealing with civil unrest, history already tells us the course of action that would be put into place & it doesn’t include the local regiment (other than being used as errand boys for the imported solution).

  4. Major Insurgence says:

    Another stroke of PLP genius. Get rid of the Regiment through stealth, and when it comes to hurricane clear up, give it all to W&E to make a fortune on overtime. Genius.

    Meanwhile, we carry on down the road towards becoming a banana republic, and one with no military.

    • PBanks says:

      This policy was put in place by the OBA government, so please leave the political nonsense out of this one.

      When it comes to the question of does Bermuda even need a military force, the island’s remote location is a decent reason. On the flip side, other UK OTs in this hemisphere (Cayman, BVI, TCI, Anguilla) seem to get by without one.

  5. Onion says:

    What a bunch of jokers.

    Regiment is an expensive anachronism and aside from parades and some limited disaster relief nobody will notice if it disappears. Let alone if it just under-strength.

    • DS says:

      If the regiment were gone the contingency plan for many Bermuda agencies, especially Police and Fire, will have to be rewritten and there will be not easy or convenient solutions. Bermuda will be a weaker country without the Regiment. Calling on foreign soldiers or policemen will not go down well. The nine colonels are right about keeping conscription on the books and the perceived operational benefit, but they miss fail to argue the social benefits. Regardless, the days of conscription are over and the Regiment is changing with the times. They demonstrated success during the Americas Cup and on deployment to TCI and they are pushing for a maritime role. This is a government department that has been a top 10 employer for the past two years and also won the product and service award for best Government service last year.

    • PBanks says:

      Yep. Adapt, or go extinct.

    • An Island without a Defence Force.

      • sandgrownan says:

        Defence from what? Couldn’t even protect your granny from being pepper sprayed.

      • inna says:

        Still want to go independent!!??

      • Mike Hind says:

        Yes. You are…

      • peelpee says:

        “An Island without a Defence Force.

        The last time the regiment ‘defended’ the island was during the riots, where half the regiment was rioting.

        You’re PATHETIC OJ, absolutely PATHETIC!

      • nerema says:

        Obviously Waine Caines has failed. He oversaw the end of conscription and he has been unable to persuade enough recruits. So much for being minister of ‘national security’.

      • wildcat says:

        The regiment is not a defense force even with full numbers.

      • PBanks says:

        If Bermuda was to become independent, then indeed, we’ll have to review the status, composition and roles of our existing military service dept. Right now though?

    • BILLYBYE says:

      You’ll notice when the next major hurricane strikes. Every country needs an insurance policy mate.

  6. haha says:

    too bad, you should have thought about that when you were busy wasting our time up warwick camp while sipping whisky in the lounge.

  7. kevin says:

    You people who honestly believe that the regiment serves no real purpose will be the very first who will scream and shout when there is no one to assist you with putting a tarpaulin on your roof after a hurricane or assist with clearing the roadways. They also assist with keeping the peace during civil unrest …oh yeah you probably don’t think its necessary. I was in the regiment and there are great life lessons to be learned , well beyond the firing of a rifle.
    Open your eyes before its too late

  8. Alan says:

    Maybe it does not pay enough.

    While I’m on it, nearly enough Colonels for a Junta.

  9. Bermewjan says:

    While I’m not a huge fan of conscription, we need to maintain a healthy Regiment to support our emergency services during hurricanes and periods of public unrest, never mind supporting our defense god forbid we should ever require it. If conscription has now been proven to be our only course of action to make sure we have a healthy Regiment then we just have to get behind it. Anarchy isn’t an option in any civilized society, and certainly not a refined one, such as ours.

  10. Legalgirl says:

    Unless they are planning on a military dictatorship or coup perhaps best to accept that without conscription numbers and costs will drop.

  11. Family Man says:

    420 is optimum? Optimum for what?

    Why do we even need a regiment? Are we preparing to repel a Russian invasion?

    First define what you want the regiment to do.
    Then determine the optimum staffing.

    We don’t need 420 people to clear the roads after a hurricane. What do we need 420 people for?

    • PBanks says:

      Certainly there’s a 420 joke in here somewhere :D

      • Family Man says:

        Is that why they go on those Jamaica ‘training’ sessions?

        It’s all starting to make sense now.

  12. John Thorne says:

    Let the 9 colonels and their families reinlist.

  13. Son Goku says:

    Make the regiment a worth while job with benefits then the numbers will swell. Think about it, why would anyone wanna run around and be yelled at for less than 20 an hour.

  14. 6mbs says:

    Scrap regiment all together and create a national disaster recovery type team. These can consist of men and women who are loyal to the regiment, police men and fire men (when they have the time)and who ever else wants to get trained to use a chain saw and tie knots. The likelihood of Bermuda needing these type of people happens every summer during hurricane season. The likelihood of Bermuda ever needing a military is zero….and since independence isn’t happening for the foreseeable future I’m sure jolly ol Britain will send in the troops if Twitter fans of Ellen Degenerates want to invade us.

  15. NO MORE WAR says:

    Um hello, the Regiment does not bring in any revenue whatsoever. All that department does is hold its hand out for money and their officers are over paid. It is time to rid the island of the total waste of time expense. Put them to some use and have the permenant staff do guard duties for the governor premier and whomever else.

  16. Wagwon says:

    Its a waste of precious money. Id rather spend it on the ederly and fun things for the youth to do.

    Keep a volunteer marching band for parades and have a trained and paid on call clean up crew for hurricanes and disasters. Simple.

  17. Triangle Drifter says:

    We don’t need the Regiment for street cleaning after storms at all. The landscapers have the people, the know how & the equipment to do that. Before the last puff of wind they would be at their pre arranged areas.

    We need a Regiment or National Guard for ceremonial duty, for supplimentary duty for special events to help the BPS on the water & on land. Sure don’t need 420 for that.

  18. BILLYBYE says:

    How can anyone in there right mind think it’s a good idea to not have a defense force!!! Some of the comments, people are really out there!
    Really sad to see how less proud we’ve become as a country over the years. This topic really speaks to the level of country Pride we have when we can’t even get people to serve there own country/people. And it’s not there fault.
    Hope all you fools who encouraged our young folk that it’s better not to serve their people remember this when your old and in need of assistance one day.
    And in case you haven’t realized yet, but the same young men you don’t/didn’t encourage to serve, sad to say but they are going to be the same ones your going to be looking for to put tarp on your roof, board up your doors and windows, come out in the storm and pick you up to take you to the hospital, clear the roads within hours for emergency vehicle access throughout the island and so much more, hope you”ll remember!!! And sure, you think “Oh the public will pitch-in”, you shall see, you will see!

    • Family Man says:

      I’d rather our young men and women spend their time and energy on improving their education rather than training to put a tarp on someone’s roof. It’s a pretty sad reflection on our educational abilities when so many people think ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’ are interchangeable.

    • PBanks says:

      There’s a significant difference between encouraging people to serve and dragging those in, against their will.

      And while you continue with the disconnect between military service and disaster relief, it’s been shown time and time again that if there’s anything that Bermudians of all walks of life can come together on, it’s helping our neighbours after a hurricane strike. The regiment soldiers who give their time to assist, are gladly appreciated, but we won’t drop down wailing in despair if for whatever reason they’re not available because of cutbacks in numbers.

  19. Waste of money says:

    The Bermuda regiment is a total waste of taxpayer money . It is not about pride it is economics. If you are looking for pride how about a bus an ferry service that show up on time . Those that think it is the regiment that put the Island back together after a hurricane are dreaming. Value for dollar they make W E seem like the deal of the century !

  20. PANGAEA says:

    I did my time the Regiment and I am proud of it ,which give me the opportunity to call those who don’t, cowards.

    ” Be a man my son!”

  21. Imjustsaying says:

    Oh boo hoo! I guess we are now vulnerable to a Russian or North Korean attack. Give me a break.

  22. tribda says:

    if it was full time I would be there in a second, hope they change the laws!