Defence Force Sergeant Major Relieved of Duty

Much of the focus however, has been on the Police Department, but reliable sources are now claiming that similar actions have been known to take place in the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force.

The latest incident being cited by observers, relates to the decision this week, to relieve Warrant Officer 1, Derrick Fyfield of his appointment as Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), with immediate effect, (Monday 21st March, 2011).IMG_3905

Fyfield’s removal as RSM, and new posting to ‘A’ Coy, as Platoon Commander, is said to have been issued in the Force’s weekly newsletter or Orders that were signed by the head of the Defence Force, Lt. Col. Patrick Wallace. The source indicates that in military circles, it is viewed by some as a demotion in status, though not in rank and salary.

It is said that Fyfield, who has been the RSM for almost 14 years, learnt of his fate, the same day of his removal, on Monday, 21st March, when he returned to work, after an overseas trip to Trinidad with his football team, even though junior members of the Defence Force were said to have known since last year and were heard discussing the pending action in their barracks.

The preamble to the Force Orders that removed Fyfield carried the following quote from the Bible:

“For those who have done evil, those who have sinned, they shall pay the consequence. None shall escape. The righteous and the faithful ones, they shall be rewarded with good things. Smile, for the day of jubilee is at hand, the hour is now!”

Some members of the Force are said to have interpreted the quote as a threat to certain members who have not been on good terms with the Colonel. They have admitted however, that it is not unusual for the Force Orders to begin with a selected quote of choice.

The RSM, it is said, usually works closely with the Commander of the Defence Force as his “right hand man” but in recent times, observers have indicated that the relationship between Fyfield and his military boss, has steadily deteriorated over various issues that are said to have presented themselves between the two senior members of the Force.

But there are other charges that question the Colonel’s management style and his professional relationship with some of those under his command. Critics of the Colonel claim that since assuming the top army post in 2003, over 80 personnel have left the service in the eight year period. Given that the full membership of the Force is now less than 125, the steady flow of resignations and dismissals is thought to be much too high and that it has affected the morale within the organization.

The list of soldiers who have left for one reason or another have been those with positions as high as Captain, Lieutenant, Warrant Officer, Sergeant and other ranks.

Now, the most senior Non Commissioned Officer has been removed from his post without prior notice or discussion, said observers.

Other reports indicate that the Commander himself, has been under serious review by his superiors, and it is alleged that this was partly the reason he was recently forced to take a long leave of absence, for vacation purposes, while his future with the military body was under consideration. The commander is reported to have returned to duty during the second week of March.

Some sources have alleged that there is a great rift between some of the senior officers of the Force. They state that the division, however, goes even further, to include alignments with some officers and top government officials, with some officers giving their loyalty to one side over the other.

It is alleged that Fyfield is thought to be too close to a particular senior government minister and this has helped to worsen the relationship between him and his boss, the Colonel, whom some claim is himself taking sides with certain top security officials, other than the Minister of National Security.

It is also said that the Colonel has stated that he finds it impossible to work with Fyfield as his RSM, thus the decision to strip him of his position.

Sources have also shared that other members are to be sanctioned shortly, and these may include officers with senior ranks such as Captain, Sergeant and Warrant Officer. They have gone as far to claim that that is why the Colonel selected the passage from the Bible as a warning or threat.

It was only last year that media reports focused on another senior officer, who was retired by the Commander, though the action was unknown to the minister responsible for the military unit. It was not until after much deliberation, the officer was allowed to return to their post, only to be sent again, this time on long leave.

However, after returning to duty from a 4 month stint away from office, the claim is that the senior officer is yet to be allowed to continue their usual responsibilities. Those duties, it is alleged, have already been assigned to a more junior member of the force.

When contacted Colonel Wallace on Tuesday, 22nd March, for his reaction to the accusations, he declined comment, except to indicate that “It is a routine matter to re assign members of the Force, from time to time.”

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