Outgoing Regiment CO calls for unit to be properly funded
The Bermuda Regiment must maintain its current manpower if it is to continue to carry out its duties, according to Commanding Officer Lt Col Brian Gonsalves.
Lt Col Gonsalves, who leaves his post next month, said the Regiment plays a vital support role for other agencies and groups, including the Police Service and the Fire Service.
“All this is on top of maintaining a readiness for public order and hurricane restoration efforts,” he said. “The Regiment is like an iceberg — most people only notice the ceremonial duties but there is an enormous amount beneath the water which includes most of the training and preparations.”
Around 400 soldiers are currently serving in the Bermuda Regiment, but former CO’s have expressed concern that a discussed ending of conscription will cause a drop in manpower.
Lt Col Gonsalves also noted the Regiment has suffered budget cuts in recent years, but said funds must be allocated to continue training efforts.
“Our training documents are current, we’ve modernised the Defence Act, Standing Orders and training procedures and our kit and equipment is improving,” he said.
“Every CO is going to have to look at spending some time and money on keeping the Regiment that way — and I hope those involved in the National Security Review listen to the people who know.”
This weekend, around 180 soldiers returned to Bermuda after competing training exercises at the US Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, working with Marines, members of the US Coast Guard and specialist units including US Navy medical Corpsmen.
The exercise, named Island Warrior 13, was the last overseas training exercise for Lt Col Gonsalves as CO.
Next month, he is set to hand over the reigns to British Army officer Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown.
“Every CO knows coming into the job that it’s for a fixed period,” Lt Col Gonsalves said. “Having done it for four years, it’s time for a change, and I look forward to the next opportunities.”
Lt Col Gonsalves said Lt Col Foster-Brown will inherit a modern and well-trained battalion.
Offering advice to his successor, Lt Col Gonsalves said: “He will have to take time to learn our culture.
“Although he will find many similarities and we have adopted many best practices from the British Army, we are not the British Army.
“He is going to have to create buy-in on his plans, and really understand Bermuda’s customs and traditions.”