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Published 30th January 2020, 1:10pm

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide an update on the progress of the Cayman Islands Regiment. The work to establish the new Cayman Islands regiment is moving at a good pace and I’m happy to report to this House that three part-time senior officers have been recruited who between them have over thirty eight years of officer experience in the British Army and the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force.  The Regiment, Mr. Speaker, will be commanded by Simon Watson who was formerly a Dragoons Guard in the British Army and he will be supported by Simon Spiers, who has served in a range of senior military roles, which included tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In addition Mr. Speaker, Andre Mon Desir will also join the Regiment. Andre was a former Chairman of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps Committee and came through the ranks of the Cadets’ programme. He has experience as an officer with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force as a Senior Legal Advisor and Staff Judge Advocate and he will become the Legal Advisor to the new Regiment. The first six junior officers have also been recruited and are due to leave for Bermuda in mid-February to attend three weeks of initial training with the Royal Bermuda Regiment. They will also attend officer training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom later this year. Mr. Speaker I’m very happy to say that five of the six recruits are former members of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the sixth recruit has former training experience with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.  These Junior Officers will serve as full time officers for a year before becoming reservists and returning to their regular careers.  The Junior Officers will be equipped and provided with uniforms by the United Kingdom Government during their basic training in Bermuda and upon their return to our Islands they will assist the Senior Officers in the recruitment of fifty reservists who will all receive basic training in Bermuda in July. Mr. Speaker this new team will be assisted by a Regimental Sergeant Major, who has thirteen years’ experience as a non-commissioned officer in the British Army including operational deployments, training and recruitment roles. The development of this new regiment in the Cayman Islands is an important moment for us. We are all very fortunate to live in a country that is safe and has excellent infrastructure but Mr. Speaker as we have seen only this week with the earthquake and back in 2017 and 2019 the devastating hurricanes that hit our neighbours and friends so hard, not to mention Hurricane Ivan in 2004, we need to evolve and adapt to ensure we are ready to face any threat. Mr. Speaker having a trained and disciplined force in Cayman will have a positive impact on youth development and leadership in our Islands. It will also boost security and increase our resilience on disaster management and the support that we can offer across the wider Caribbean. This new Regiment along with the recently increased resilience of our air operations, the great work that our Hazard Management team does to prepare and coordinate disasters will help us to meet the needs of our Islands today and into the future.  Mr. Speaker, this is a Cayman Islands regiment. It is not some outpost of the British Army. It is locally based and overwhelmingly it will be made up of Caymanian recruits. Seventy people applied for those six posts. The interest has been incredible. We need experienced officers, so initially it is inevitable that they will be from overseas. However, the Regiment will provide a pathway to the best and brightest Caymanian recruits to become the officers of the future. The Cayman Islands Regiment is another important symbol that we are maturing as a nation, ready to take responsibility for our own affairs and able to take our place in the world. It will be a symbol of pride for all Caymanians and it will be an organization that our young people can aspire to be a part of. I look forward to keeping this House and the country updated as we take the future steps to create the Cayman Islands Regiment.