The island’s defence force is launching a fresh drive for new soldiers for the second of its new-style Recruit Camps.
Volunteers for Recruit Camp Alpha, the first of two next year, have until the end of January next year to sign up for training, which will run from February 17 to March 1.
Royal Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer David Curley said the change doubled the chance for volunteers to acquire new skills and gain an education useful in both military and civilian life – and be well-paid for their time in uniform.
Col. Curley added: “It’s never been a better time to join the Regiment – we offer the chance for people to serve our country and help them in its time of need.
“There is also the camaraderie and friendships that are built. Our recruits are joining a large family – it’s a support network.
“There’s also physical fitness, training and educational benefits. Recruit Camp is a training opportunity and that leads on to more opportunities to train as a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer or go to Sandhurst in Britain, one of the top military academies, to become an officer.”
He added: “There are also courses at military institutions around the world.”
Col. Curley said that the new structure for Recruit Camp emphasised quality of skills over quantity, a change in part sparked by the changeover to modern SA-80 rifles, which required more time for training.
He added that the RBR was also working with other organisations like St John Ambulance to provide first aid courses, while the high school diploma equivalent GED programme at Warwick Camp had already seen its first graduates.
He said: “We are also working to expand the courses and educational opportunities on offer, outside of what is required to meet our military aims and objectives, to make service with us even more attractive. Fundamentally, as the capability of our people grows, so will the service we can deliver.
Col. Curley said the RBR had been all-volunteer since 2015 and had adapted its training and recruitment to make service more attractive.
New recruits can now go straight into uniform, fulfil the Recruit Camp requirement later and qualify for a $500 signing-on bonus after a year’s service.
Col. Curley added: “Essentially, there is the opportunity to tailor time to a soldier’s needs. We will work with employers and we try to accommodate family pressures as well.
“Equally, there are opportunities to do more than the required eight weekends a year plus a two week camp - we are a modern, flexible and enlightened employer.”
RBR Training Officer Major Ben Beasley said the training schedule was designed not only to equip soldiers with military skills, but make them feel valued for their commitment to their country.
He added: “Our soldiers come from different backgrounds, but all have something to contribute to the Regiment.
“We pride ourselves on our diversity and inclusiveness as it underpins our core values and is a pillar of strength.”
Maj. Beasley said: “Long gone is constant yelling and over-reliance on punishment to achieve a goal.
“Our instructors don’t just tell people what to do. They tell them why it’s important and encourage them to be self-motivated.
“Our soldiers don’t just start a job – they have begun a way of life that incorporates sports and social activities as well as discipline, which underpins our procedures and structures.”