The Barbados Defense Force is the name given to the combined armed forces of Barbados. The BDF was established August 15th, 1979, and has responsibility for the territorial defense and internal security of the island.
There are three main components of the BDF:
- Force Headquarters — provided administrative and logistical support for the entire force
- The Barbados Regiment — this is the main land force component, and encompasses both regular and reserve units.
- Barbados Coast Guard — this is the maritime element, with responsibility for patrolling Barbados’ territorial waters as well as drug interdiction and humanitarian and life-saving exercises.
- Barbados Cadet Corp — Military youth organisation. Includes Infantry and Sea Cadets
Increasingly as the crime situation deteriorates, our Barbados Defense Force (BDF) will be called upon to play an increasing role in domestic and regional security duties. They are many who believe that the small size of Barbados should make an army unnecessary in our neck of the woods. Two reasons which are readily offered by those anti-army are 1). the threat of a military to democratically elected governments and 2). the high cost of maintenance by countries with limited resources . Over the years we have witnessed our BDF being called to assist the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) on routine patrols, participating in disaster efforts, ceremonial duties at national events to name a few. BU sides with the view that the BDF has been used to absorb mostly young males as a strategy to keep them employed over the years. In recent times the BDF has been unable to attract applicants which meet the basic enrollment qualification. It has become a source of concern in certain quarters. If the BDF is to replenish soldiers who retire, resign, dismiss or leave through other means recruits will have to be found, and soon.
We can always rely on a member of the Bajan blogosphere to offer a view, read on:
At the launch of the Barbados Defence Force’s week of activities, Commanding Officer of the Barbados Regiment Lt Col Clyde Parris has lamented the shortage of applicant to join the force –particularly from young men. The Commanding Officer also commented that even cadets are opting not to join up with the BDF. This is a very interesting situation, and one that appears to call for much deeper analysis than just a superficial look. The real question that should be asked of course is why so many are leaving the BDF. In fact, it would be useful if we can have some figures from the Force as to the exact numbers of soldiers at all levels of the organisation that have resigned in the last five years. The fact that cadets, who have been closely associated with the BDF over the years are reluctant to join may well be a clear indication that all is not well in that body. Passing strange that in a society where jobs are hard to come and where the challenges that face the military are largely ceremonial, we should have such a dearth of applicants to join the BDF and even stranger, that such large numbers at both low and senior levels are rushing to resign. The problem may well lie – not with those reluctant to join or remain with the BDF- but with those inside who manage and Command that organisation. It is also interesting that Colonel Parris commented on the ‘large numbers’ joining the Cadet Corps at this time. What is different about that organisation? Is it not part of the Defence Force? Maybe The Colonel needs to look inwards.One hopes that the proposed reforms to this organisation promised by the new Government will seek to address the real problems that reside in that institution.
Submitted by a Commenter
Is it conceivable that the BDF may have to turn to our Caribbean brothers and sisters as a source to bolster its recruitment effort?