NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said, on March 6, 2016, that the role of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in a 21st Century Bahamas has become “even more demanding and pronounced” as the Government moves forward with the Defence Agenda set forth in its Charter for Governance.
“Some 36 years into its existence, it can be said without reservation that the Defence Force has stood the test of time and is second to none in the region, as each day its officers seek to demonstrate that the organization has the commitment, wherewithal, capability and discipline to deliver on its mandate to: Defend The Bahamas; protect its territorial integrity; patrol its waters; provide assistance in times of disaster; maintain order in conjunction with the law enforcement agencies of The Bahamas; assist with search and rescue; maintain navigational aids; and carry out any such duties as determined by the National Security Council,” Prime Minister Christie said.
Prime Minister Christie was speaking at the Annual Church Service of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, which was held under the theme “Forward, Upward, Onward, Together in Guarding Our Heritage,” at Bahamas Faith Ministries, Carmichael Road.
Prime Minister Christie said that the Annual Church Service provides an opportunity to give thanks to the Almighty for “His many mercies throughout the year; reflect on the activities of the Force; and give recognition to stellar performances as the organization prepares for future challenges to the nation’s security, while looking out for the well being of its officers, marines, recruits and their families”.
“The Government of The Bahamas is grateful for the contributions that the Defence Force makes every day to the national security interests of this country,” Prime Minister Christie said. “We are thankful for your contribution to the whole-of-government efforts at home and abroad in resource protection, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance, recognizing that these operations place the organization in a lead role, as well one in which it must lend support to other agencies.”
He added that it is, therefore, an objective of the Government of The Bahamas to maintain a “well-trained, fit and equipped Defence Force” that can react to crisis at short notice, and work in partnership with many government agencies to provide assistance to people and protect the country’s territory waters.
“Defence Force statistics indicate that for this year, some steady progress has been made in the area of maritime interdiction with 1,697 undocumented migrants apprehended; over 10,000 pounds of fisheries resources seized from a Dominican Republic fishing vessel; more than 218 pounds of marijuana found during the search of a cay; and the apprehension of a number of persons on the high seas for being in possession of undeclared arms or goods,” he said.
Prime Minister Christie said that those results are encouraging and are indicative of what can be achieved with the right mix of manpower, marine and air assets in the protection of the country’s borders.
“They can also be attributed largely to the maritime operations of the newly acquired vessels that form part of the Government’s Sandy Bottom Project, which is the single most significant programme to be undertaken by the Bahamas Defence Force,” he said.
Prime Minister Christie said that today the global reach of transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups threaten the safety, security and livelihood of traditionally peaceful countries through a network of criminal activities.
“The Bahamas is not exempted from these expanding threats,” he said. “The Government, therefore, appreciates and understands the tremendous responsibility that has been placed on the Defence Force for the security of our borders at this critical juncture in its history.”