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Barbados Defense Force (BDF)

Barbados was one of only two Eastern Caribbean states to maintain a standing military force (Antigua and Barhuda was the other). The Barbados Defense Force (BDF) is the name given to the combined armed forces of Barbados. The Barbados Defense Force (BDF) has responsibility for the territorial defense and internal security of the island and is a participant in the process for the approval of applications for the flying of drones, the use of explosives and pyrotechnics.

The BDF was established August 15, 1979, and has responsibility for the territorial defense and internal security of the island. It was established during the Tom Adams administration to protect the Barbados Labour Party from a perceived threat from Burnet -Alleyne which never materialised. Despite the concerns of Barrow and others, most observers in the late 1980s did not perceive the BDF to be a direct threat to democratic government. One author, Gary P. Lewis, cited Barbados' well-established constitutional system and tradition of public accountability, as well as its relatively high level of economic development, as strong disincentives to military influence in the political arena.

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), with a complement of over 1400, is responsible for internal law enforcement, including migration and border enforcement. The Barbados Defense Force (BDF) protects national security and may be called upon to maintain public order in times of crisis, emergency, or other specific needs. The RBPF reports to the attorney general, and the BDF reports to the minister of defense and security. Although police were largely unarmed, special RBPF foot patrols in high-crime areas carried firearms. An armed special rapid response unit continued to operate. The law provides that police may request BDF assistance with special joint patrols.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the RBPF and BDF, and the government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. Allegations against police were investigated and brought to the Police Complaints Authority, a civilian body in the Office of Professional Responsibility.

There are five main components of the BDF:

  1. Force Headquarters provided administrative and logistical support for the entire force
  2. The Barbados Regiment this is the main land force component, and encompasses both regular and reserve units. The regiment has no armored personnel carriers, just Landrovers which offers no protection for the modern infantryman in a combat situation. The primary weapon of choice is the M-16 rifle which has its limitations in close-counter operations and can only put so many rounds down range. There are no indirect systems such as mortar or howitzers.
  3. Barbados Coast Guard this is the maritime element, with responsibility for patrolling Barbados territorial waters as well as drug interdiction and humanitarian and life-saving exercises. Having aqquired new offshore and inshore PCFs and a new base, they can be more effective in fulfilling their missions and objectives.
  4. Royal Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Air Wing. The air branch of the BDF apparently was tasked primarily with transport duties, reflecting the BDF's important role within the RSS. Every modern army in this day and age, has an air arm. Caribbean neighbors Jamaica, Guyana , T&T, Belize and the Bahamas have both rotary (helicopters) and fixed wing aircraft. Aircraft are one of the most important pieces of equipment in any nations arsenal. They provide fire support, reconnassance, troop transport, medivac, SAR amongst other duties. Barbados needs a compliment of similar aircraft.
  5. Barbados Cadet Corp Military youth organisation. Includes Infantry and Sea Cadets

As of 2017, Prime Minister of Barbados - The Rt. Hon. Freundel J. Stuart - was both Prime Minister and Minister of National Security. The Chief of Staff is a Colonel, while the Deputy Chief of Staff is a Commander.

In 2008 China donated a store of non-lethal military equipment to the BDF, including generators, field medical equipment, and riot gear. Following the 13 November 2009 visit of Chinese Admiral Guan You Fei, Deputy Head of Foreign Affairs in China's Ministry of National Defense, a USD $420,000 training and technical aid package signed by the BDF would include not only material support, but also future visits of Chinese instructors to Barbados. China's security assistance package to Barbados -- the third of its kind -- was similar to packages given recently to Antigua, which provide considerable basic equipment and uniforms rather than sophisticated training or equipment.

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