Government has placed $1.5 million at the disposal of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) to boost its Sea Cadet complement by an additional 1,000 young people.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made this disclosure, last evening, as she addressed the BDF’s Medal ceremony held under her patronage in the Lingwood Hall at St. Ann’s Fort, Garrison, St. Michael.
“It is the intention of my government to expand both the numbers and the funds available because we believe that there is ‘as good but no better’, a noble pursuit for the training and the maturing of our young people of this nation, particularly as we continue to fight the existential threats of climate change,” she said.
She further noted that the mission of a modern Defence Force in a small island developing state like Barbados was not to “fight glorious battles and wars”, but to understand and meet the needs of the security of a nation state.
These needs, Ms. Mottley said, would include those relating to security and health, and threats posed by climate change.
She pointed out that the battles of the 21st century would be in the area of cybercrime, cyber threats to security and biological threats.
“Therefore, the Barbados Defence Force must develop the skill-set to allow our country not to be confronted in a way that leaves us flat-footed with respect to these threats.
“What has been more important for us is, we asked you to help play the part in being able to excite an appetite in many of our young people to serve, and to serve where it matters most for an island – in our maritime environment; and to serve at a level that ought to give them the platform of discipline; a capacity to hone skills and a fellowship that will last for a lifetime, but equally a bridge to the reserves of our distinguished force,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
While commending the BDF for rising to the challenge, she also called on those in uniform to play their part by being testimonies and representations to their communities and families as to why others should want to become involved in the Sea Cadet and proposed expanded reserve programme.
During her address, Ms. Mottley also said it was not just a ceremony, but a reflection for each awardee to understand that it was with discipline that they got there, and with further discipline they will reach further.
Members of the Barbados Regiment, the Barbados Coast Guard and retired officers received the General Service Medal for their participation in Operation SISSEROU and CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit operational service.
Officers were also awarded the Regional Security System Medal for their role in Operation SUPPETIOR and Housing Rehabilitation in Barbuda.
These officers were among those who assisted with the rescue and response efforts in Dominica, Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands in 2015 and 2017, after those nations were impacted by disaster.
The Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to Major (retired) Patrick Skeete, for his contribution to youth development in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the late Private Daniel Louis, who died in a car accident in December 2016, was awarded posthumously for his role in the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief effort in Dominica, following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in September 2015. His award was received by his mother.