Resilient In The Fight Against COVID 19

BDF Media Release| 1 January 2021

Photography and Story credit: BDF Media

When Barbados became the fourth English-speaking Caribbean country to achieve its constitutional independence, one of the primary responsibilities of Government was to assume security responsibilities of the new state. During the ensuing period 1966 to 1979, the Barbados Regiment formed in 1948 and itself created from the Barbados Militia (1680), the Barbados Yeomanry Corps (1859) and the Barbados Volunteer Force (1902) was the military entity with such security responsibilities. The formation of the Barbados Defence Force in 1979 was therefore rooted in the existence of a local military lineage of several hundred years. The 1979 Defence Act saw the amalgamation of the Barbados Regiment, the Coast Guard Service and the Barbados Cadet Corps and was predicated on intertwined national and regional threats and shaped the future concept of defence and security.

Since its then the Barbados Defence Force’s (BDF) mandate has been and continues to be the defence of Barbados, the protection of our national security interests and maintaining the territorial integrity of the state. The Force’s mandate also extends beyond Barbados’ borders as part of the Regional Security System and CARICOM security constructs. In so doing the full range of military technical specializations within the Force have been employed.

Regionally, the Force is a key component of the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Caribbean Security (CARICOM) security apparatus. Among many regional deployments, units of the Force have deployed to render assistance during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983; the Jama’at al-Muslimeen attempted coup d’état in Trinidad in 1990 and for security operations during Operation Restore Democracy/Uphold Democracy in Haiti between 1994 and 1996.

The BDF has also provided humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR) in many theatres of operation including to Jamaica in 1988, Montserrat in 1989, Grenada in 2004 and Dominica in 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricanes Gilbert, Hugo, Ivan and Maria respectively.  As part of the CARICOM Caribbean Disaster Relief Unit, the BDF participated in the response to the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and in the British Virgin Islands in 2017 after the passage of Hurricane Irma.

In 2020, a public health threat changed the global landscape. Contemporary multidimensional security challenges were highlighted with the emergence of Covid-19, a pandemic which presented great complexity and uncertainty. The BDF in concert with the public and private sectors of society joined in the response to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Branded as one of the most devastating public health crises since the global plague of 1918 to 1920, it has presented a multifaceted threat which has tested all entities locally, regionally and internationally.

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The commitment and support of the BDF has been readily displayed in the Force’s deployments and employment of its resources. The Force’s actions are demonstrative of its mission – to defend and secure Barbados’ interests, against contemporary and emerging security threats, including responding to disasters, independently and or jointly with our interagency, multinational, public and private sector partners.

Concomitant to the Force’s mission, OPERATION TRIDENT SHIELD was the Force’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic; this Operation commenced on 3 February 2020.  OPERATION TRIDENT SHIELD was embedded into the operational scope of the Force to further assist the Government of Barbados to manage this public health threat. In addition to the joint patrols with the Royal Barbados Police Force, maritime operations to counter illicit trafficking and other transnational organised crimes; the Force augmented their medical response capabilities in support of national initiatives. Most recently the Force deployed in assistance to the Barbados Prison Service at Dodds.

Among other actions, the BDF has reinforced its Health Services Unit as the main effort of medical support and management of the virus throughout 2020 and is ongoing. Additionally, the Force coordinated and managed the logistic support for the setup of quarantine facilities, transport assistance (for aspects of testing and quarantining), provided meals for quarantined persons, assisted with the coordinating and technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Health Emergency Operations Centre; increased support to the joint RPBF curfew patrols and Covid-19 screening and both ports of entry.

As at 31 December 2020, the BDF assisted at the ports of entry with the screening of over, 64,880 persons, transportation of over 300 positive cases and approximately 1,880 persons to quarantine facilities. Additionally, the Force assisted and facilitated the preparation of over 32,100 meals for quarantined persons.  A further 110 tests have been conducted in support of the Accident and Emergency Department’s Clinical Decision Unit when it was established at Jemmott’s Lane.

As a member of the regional Covid-19 response, the BDF has supported the Integrated Regional Logistics Hub in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Regional Security System and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security. This assistance involved the intraregional movement of equipment and supplies needed to help our Caribbean neighbours to fight the pandemic.

As 2021 dawns, the BDF will continue to pre-empt and/or respond to emerging threats, remaining committed to excellence through service to our beloved Barbados. The BDF places great value on joint interagency operations both on land and at sea in order to maintain a safe and secure environment that is conducive to national stability, growth and development.