Not advocating for National Service scheme, but we would support it
19 March 2014
We write to clarify our position on mandatory service in the Bermuda Regiment and particularly, the subject of National Service. While national service did come up during the interview that led to a story on your front page a few days ago, we did not mean to suggest that we were actively advocating such a scheme. It is an option favoured by some, as a way of making sure everyone serves the country at the age of 18, not just those who are fit for service in the Regiment.
It was an idea that was explored by the then-government during Dr [Ewart] Brown's time in office, we believe, but was not pursued.
If the legislature decides to adopt national service, we would support it, of course. Meantime, our interest is simply in making sure that the Regiment is kept up to the strength that is required for it to properly serve the community in its appointed roles. That requires an intake of 120 to 130 men and women a year. Based on Bermuda's declining birth rate and our experience and knowledge of past efforts, we do not believe that sufficient volunteers will be found to keep the unit's intake at that level consistently.
For one year, it might work with the expenditure of a great deal of effort and money, but as a way of doing business year in, year out, it will not work.
THE NINE COLONELS