The top-ranking UK military officer in the US said yesterday the Royal Bermuda Regiment boosted to the country’s regional profile and was an invaluable resource for natural disasters at home and abroad.
Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Parker, the UK Defence Attaché and Head of the Defence Staff in America, added: “Having the Regiment adds very much to the Bermuda’s prestige and it’s a very important capability and something Bermuda can be very proud of – that ability to be able to assist other countries in times of need.”
The former front-line Royal Air Force fighter pilot was speaking on a three-day whirlwind visit to the island to meet the latest intake of recruits and discuss how to the island can forge closer links to the British military with Governor John Rankin, the Government and senior RBR officers.
Air Marshal Parker, who is based at the British Embassy in Washington, visited Recruit Camp soldiers at Hog Bay, Southampton, where the island’s newest soldiers spent their first nights in the field, before he toured Warwick Camp and got an overview of the RBR’s role and how it worked with other services like the Bermuda Police.
He said: “The recruits all looked highly enthusiastic – all volunteers, of course. They looked like they were having a great time and learning a lot.”
Air Marshal Parker added: “I was also incredibly impressed by the quality of the Non-Commissioned Officers taking them through their training package.
The Defence Attaché earlier discussed how the RBR is to take over maritime security duties from the police service and its reorganisation from an infantry role to widen its ability to serve the public after a strategic review.
Air Marshal Parker said: “The Regiment is an outstandingly important capability for Bermuda. I can see a huge amount of potential for the Regiment in all of the environments, not just the land environment, but the sea environment.”
The former Typhoon fighter pilot added that Bermuda could also consider developing an air capability through the use of low-cost drones for search and rescue and security duties.
Air Marshal Parker said: “It’s been interesting and encouraging to see the Regiment is keeping up with the times and critically evaluating its role and how it needs to adapt to a new environment and the needs of the island.
“Hopefully, we have been able to assist in some ways with the review.”
He added: “We are always very keen to help with the Regiment and with the service it provides to Bermuda.”
Air Marshal Parker said: “People may argue what has caused it, but we are undoubtedly subject to climate change. Hurricane seasons are becoming more prolonged and violent, it seems.
“Set against that change, it’s very important to build networks and for everybody to be able to contribute what they can in overcoming the carnage which can be caused by tropical hurricanes. I know Bermuda is engaged in these sorts of initiatives further south in the Caribbean.”
Royal Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel David Curley said the visit was a good example of using the island’s contacts to boost training and efficiency.
He added: “The Defence Attaché represents one of our first ports of call when we need assistance, guidance or advice.”
Lt Col Curley said: “Hopefully, he was impressed with what we’re capable of doing with limited resources – the funding available, the availability of part-time soldiers and limited training facilities.”
He added: “The recruits and more senior soldiers were surprised and pleased that a two star officer had time in his busy schedule to visit them.
“Air Marshal Parker engaged with them and talked to them on a personal level, which they appreciated.”