The sentiments were expressed on Thursday (September 05), while the Federation’s Commander in Chief addressed the graduating class of the Basic Military Course 1 of 2013 at Camp Springfield.
“Graduates, your Government has invested a great deal of time and energy in enhancing the professionalism of the St. Kitts Nevis Defence Force,” Prime Minister Douglas said, adding that the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace and other members of the high command has been exemplary. “You are indeed fortunate to be learning and operating under his command and I urge you to make good use of the opportunities for growth and development that can be found in his example and in his leadership.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis leader, who holds the ministerial portfolio for police and the defence force, reminded the audience, which comprised Members of Parliament, senior Government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, the Commissioner of Police, proud parents and others, that the role of the SKNDF is vital in ensuring national security.
“The Defence Force and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force often collaborate for example on the important national priority of combating crime and maintaining law and order,” he stressed. “… There are those within the Federation who have decided to adopt the violent lifestyle that we see on television. This Government has no intention of allowing the ‘thug culture’ that we see on television or in the movies to take root here in St. Kitts and Nevis and I’m certain that you are all aware of the many instances in which the police force and the defence force have collaborated to identify and apprehend violent criminals in order to stop them from further undermining the peace and stability of … our Federation.”
It was also stressed to the members of BMC 1-2013 that they may be called on to render aid and comfort in the event of a disaster and from time to time, their duties will take them outside of the sister islands.
“In the years ahead, you will understand that that your responsibility is not [just] to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis only, but to our neighbours in Antigua and Dominica, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in St. Lucia and other regional nations as well,” expressed Prime Minister Douglas, referring to the Regional Security System (RSS) established in 1996 for regional cooperation on security matters.
Noting that these countries are vulnerable to the same natural disasters as St. Kitts and Nevis the Prime Minister said that in times of crises, they will have a need for “well trained, disciplined, competent professionals to arrive from neighbouring islands … to do for them what they are unable to do themselves.”
As such, the defence force soldiers were reminded that by joining the ranks, they are expected to lead lives of respect and responsibility.
“It is essential therefore that you remain true to this pledge and it is important that you realize the sense of dignity and decency that must now accompany your lives and your behaviour both when you are on duty and when you are not,” the Prime Minister admonished.
Press release from St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service