The Governor paid a visit to the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s first summer recruit camp yesterday. John Rankin, Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, chatted with the service’s newest soldiers, toured Warwick camp and inspected new vehicles brought in to boost the capabilities of the island’s defence force.
Mr Rankin said: “It’s great we have so many volunteers for this second camp of the year — and I’m impressed by the number of women volunteers as well.”
He added: “We’ve now moved to an all-volunteer regiment which continues to play a very important role in the defence and security of the island.
“I’m very pleased by the focus on the support to the civilian authorities, whether it be major events on the island or other areas of work where the Regiment can act in support of the police, fire and other services.
He added: “The Regiment provides disaster response, first and foremost in Bermuda itself, where it is the first responder to clear the roads and make things safe for the other emergency services.”
Mr Rankin said: “I support the move, in due course, to a maritime role to help provide security in the waters around the island.”
He added that the regiment had also proved its professionalism last year in the Turks & Caicos after the UK Overseas Territory was hit by two hurricanes in quick succession.
Mr Rankin was speaking as 23 new recruits spent their fourth day of two weeks basic training at Warwick Camp.
The soldiers, eight of them women, spent yesterday getting to grips with the RBR’s British Army’s standard rifle, the SA-80, with a strong emphasis on safety before they get to visit the firing range for target practice.
Private Chavon Outerbridge said she joined up for the discipline.
She explained: “I need a lot of discipline. I felt I was lacking there and it’s also something new where I’m learning new skills.”
The 39-year-old, who works at the Post Office’s mail processing centre, admitted: “My body hurts — everything aches, things I didn’t even know I had hurt.”
But she said: “It feels great to get up early — I’m not a morning person, so to get up at 5.30am is crazy, but good.”
Private Outerbridge added that she had enjoyed drill lessons on the parade ground the most.
She said: “I like the drills — it’s something I never thought I would be doing and it’s so sharp when we’re in unison. It’s beautiful.”
Private Vidal Papina, originally from the Philippines, added: “I love the morning physical training. I like the discipline and even the food is nice — there’s nothing I don’t like.
“It’s hard, but there’s a lot of laughing as well.”
Private Papina, 43, who works at Hamilton’s Supermart store, said he had previous military experience from mandatory citizen army training in high school in his homeland.
But he said: “This is better — I’m enjoying it a lot more.”
Sergeant Kenton Trott, a veteran full-time soldier and diplomatic driver for Mr Rankin, was seconded back to Warwick Camp as platoon sergeant for the new recruits.
He said: “They’re doing fantastically well. They’re all putting their best foot forward and putting in the effort. I’m pleased across the board.
Sergeant Trott added: “It’s only day four and early, so the aches and pains will start to come in.”
He explained that the training had been streamlined to make best use of the time available, with traditional aspects like full dress uniform and polishing drill boots pushed back in the new soldiers’ careers.
Sergeant Trott said: “The schedule has been changed to provide more of the important things — rifle lessons, fieldcraft and lessons in our history, role and military law.
“There is less wasted time so it’s more conducive to learning.”
Mr Rankin added: “The training these soldiers will receive here will stand them in good stead in other parts of their lives.
“They will get training in new skills, taking responsibility and in leadership which, as well as being of benefit to the Regiment, they can also apply in their civilian lives.
“I have met many employers who have said the training their staff gets in the RBR is of enormous benefit in the workplace.”