Major Dwight Lewis
St Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force
Major Dwight Lewis, St Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force.
PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL AWARDS AND PROMOTION PARADE 2005
On behalf of the officers and ranks of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force I wish to extend a warm welcome to all present here this evening to witness this parade in which several cadets will in a few minutes be awarded for outstanding achievements in the various areas of cadetting. Some will also assume higher command functions within the Cadet Force consequent upon their promotion to a higher rank. Before going into my report, I wish to crave your indulgence to pay tribute to those cadets who on Monday braved the inclement weather to provide assist at the Emergency Operations Centre at NEMO and in particular those who for hours worked through mud and silt to salvage house hold items and personal belongings of Captain Phillip Cambridge where the house in which he lived at New Montrose was hit by a massive land slide. While Captain Cambridge and his family have suffered tremendous lost of personal property we thank almighty God for having spared their lives. The Cadet Force will continue to rally with Captain Cambridge as he work towards putting his life and that of his family back together again.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed a pleasure to be presenting this report after a brief absence. In this regard I wish to commend Major Hamilton for holding-the-fort in my absence.
In this report I intend to reflect on the activities of the Cadet Force over the past year or so and to bring you up to date on the status of several initiatives. I also intend to share some of my concerns and anticipations relative to the Cadet movement here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The past year has been interesting, successful and not uneventful. The primary focus during the year was the decentralization of the Force and the strengthening of administrative structures which are pivotal to the overall development of the Force. This process of organisational enhancement is influenced and guided by our 2005-2007 development plan adopted in January. From a developmental standpoint the year has been somewhat measured due to material, financial, and physical constraints. Nevertheless I am satisfied that we have made considerable progress even in our perennial state of imposed homelessness. It is indeed sad and painful for the organization to be homeless at age sixty-nine (69). At the moment we remain the only cadet Force in the region and perhaps in the world which does not have a Head Quarters or somewhere to be called home. We consider this state of existence to be a ‘historic wrong’ that has been taken for granted by successive administrations despite our relentless efforts over the years to have this matter addressed. Accordingly, given the present thrust in which a number of ‘historic wrongs’ have been attended to, we in the cadet family expect that the situation in this new dispensation would be given the urgent attention it so rightfully deserves.
The question is, just how have we been able to survive. It is only as a result of our youthful zeal and our national commitment that we have been able to sustain the existence of this noble organsation.
This brings me to the subject of recruitment.
In May some 99 recruit were enrolled as cadets after having successfully completed three months of basic military training. This brings the nominal strength of the Force to two hundred and ten. Based on the expressed need for much more of our nation’s youth to become involved in discipline activities have necessitated the desire for the Cadet Force to expand and in the process to decentralize its operation. This development thrust happens to be the brainchild of the Honorable Minister of National Security Sir Vincent Beache in whom we are well pleased.
The first phase of this exercise, which was concentrated in the Marriaqua and Carapan area, involved the recruitment of officers and adult ranks in addition to cadets. While there were pledges of interest among some members of staff in the schools, the response from the students have been over whelming. This is manifested in the over five hundred applications received from students presently enrolled in the current recruitment programme. The second phase of the decentralization exercise is now in progress and is being conducted on the Leeward side of the country as far as Barouallie. The hope is that within the next year or two there would be full-fledged cadet detachments on the Windward and Leeward sides of the country in addition to the central unit in Kingstown. Accordingly, it is anticipated that by then the nominal strength of the Cadet Force would be in excess of six hundred Cadets.
The Cadet Force training programme during the period in review consisted of thirty-four (34) training parades divided over three academic terms. The programme consisted of the following areas of training: drill, map and compass, leadership, method of instructions, weapon training, physical fitness, mass casualty management, first aid, disaster preparedness, music and band training, citizenship, and community service. Also, a total of 35 cadets participated in activities related to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
As customary, the emphasis in Term one was on the preparation of the Cadet Guards for the Independence Parade. After weeks of training, the performance of the two Guards on the parade was of a very high standard something long established by our forbearers.
In December the Force conducted a Senior Non Commission Officers cadre, which was designed to sharpen the skills of the NCOs.
Additionally, a training camp was held during the summer vacation. This camp was used to execute such training as was not possible at weekly parades or within weekend time limits. Consequent upon an invitation form the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force a contingent of cadets from St. Lucia participated in the camp. Immediately following the conclusion of the local summer camp the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force played host to150 cadets from the Barbados cadet Corps. This visit was part of the programme of strengthening the cadet movement in the region. The contingent comprised of members from the Barbados Cadet corps Band, the Drill Display Unit and a Detachment of Sea Cadets. They were involved in a number of community concerts and drill displays at various locations on mainland St. Vincent.
The Sea Cadets were involved in a variety of aquatic activities and they have been instrumental in assisting the local cadet movement with the setting-up of our Sea Cadet Programme.
Though our community self help programme cadets have rendered voluntary service on several physical and infrastructure projects in addition to assisting charitable organisations in a variety of different ways.
The Band continues to be the main public relations and community service arm of the Force. They were involved in a number of performances for various schools, clubs and national sport meets, church processions, among others.
The Cadet Force continues to bring to the fore its leadership and disaster preparedness skills with the mammoth support it provided to the relief operations in Grenada in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan. Our members worked above and beyond the call of duty to receive, package, load, transport, unload and deliver relief supplies to Grenada. One officer voluntarily surrendered ten days of his vacation leave to perform National Service duty as the Logistics Officer in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Grenada.
At the moment we have in the Cadet Force the only organisation that offers anything that can truly be called national service. An organisation whose members in response to the Hurricane Ivan operation would have gone to Canpden Park to receive relief supplies; load those supplies into a container; travel to Kingstown with the container; unload it unto a vessel; board the same vessel and travel to Grenada; unload the supplies in Grenada and proceed to distribute the supplies throughout the island. This having been done without sleeping or eating is indeed a display of national service of the highest order. This begs the question, don’t we deserve better. I note that the Cadet Force is the only state own and control youth organisation, it is for that reason why we deserve better. It is an embarrassment to the State to have to train in excess of six hundred young people in the streets because of the absence of appropriate facilities.
In conclusion, the success of the Cadet Force over the years convinces me that greater attention ought to be paid to this organisation at all levels. Especially at a time when a sector of our young people have made a sharp turn to drugs, crimes and other forms of anti-social behaviour, the cadet force have a counter balancing role to perform we do this silently but not ineffectively. It is for this reason the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) has adopted the Cadet Force as the agency to work with our young people within the secondary school system. In this regard, I must commend the Commission’s chairman Honourable Sir Vincent Beache for championing the cause for the expansion and decentralizing of the cadet Force. We will be calling on Sir Vincent even in his retirement to continue to champion this cause. Mention must also be made of the Director of the NCCP Ms. Genita Lewis for facilitating the many visits to schools as part of the decentralization exercise.
I wish at this point to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for the assistance and support rendered by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force. In particular I must mention the level of cooperation received from former commissioner of police Mr William Harry how was always willing to assist the organisation and to discuss matters relative to its development. On behalf of the Cadet Force and on my own behalf I would like to wish Mr Harry a happy retirement. To the staff of the Commissioners’ office and to the many other organisations and individuals who have assisted the Cadet Force throughout the year I wish to express our heartfelt thanks.
Finally it is important to note that the Cadet Fore is about service and not about politics. For many years to come we will remain a bulwark of patriotism, discipline, and honour in the Vincentian community.
Ladies and gentlemen, my report.