St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force
The Saint Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) was re-established on 01 June 1997, when the Labor Party led by Denzil Douglas was returned to power. The SKNDF is varously estimated to have from 150 to 300 personnel total. The Defence Force has continued many of its non-military functions and has also become increasing involved in "policing," including the combating of drug and other illegal activity, thus leading to a blurring of the roles of the police and the military.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force in collaboration with the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force work to maintain law and order within the twin-island federation. The SKNDF is a multi-purpose force that is willing and able to assist in any way it is called upon to do so to ensure that the country is safe and restored in case of any disaster that puts it at risk. Although the Defence Force has encountered challenges in its efforts to eradicate illegal drugs and stamp out drug trafficking in the Federation, it remains committed to the fight. In carrying out their search for illegal drugs, officers have, for example, experienced persons involved in the cultivation of marijuana who have opened fire against them in order to avoid being detained.
- Regimental Headquarters located at Camp Springfield, in Basseterre, the federation's capital, serves as a central coordinating body for the various sub-units of the force and regulates the relationship between these units and external agencies. It is made up of the office of the Commander, officers' quarters, a canteen, headquarters of the Reserve Companies and a medical facility.
- A Company - Rifle Company (once referred to as Combat Group) is commanded by a captain and is composed of the company headquarters) and two rifle platoons. A lieutenant commands each platoon, comprising three rifle sections or squads of minimum strength, led by corporals. During the years 1970 to 1977, there was a detachment of 10 to 12 soldiers at Bath Village on the island of Nevis. Presently, there is no regular detachment of soldiers on that sister island.
- B Company - Reserve Corps of the SKNDF, which reports to the commander, comprises one Rifle Company, a band unit, a coast guard unit and a cadet corps.
- C Company - St. Kitts Nevis Defence Force Cadet Corps is composed of students from all of the secondary schools, including the Basseterre High School. The Cadet scheme, begun in 1917, is headed by a Lt./Officer Commanding, usually an officer of the SKNDF. It draws its members from the various high schools in the Federation. There were formations, each of varying strength, at seven schools in the 1970s, namely, Verchilds High School, Convent High School, Cayon High School, the Basseterre Junior High School, the Charlestown Secondary and Gingerland High School, the last two of the 7 on the neighbouring island of Nevis. The Junior Drum Corps, which was formed to accommodate those young persons who are not of age according to the constitution to be a part of the Cadet, because to be a member of the Cadet you have to be 12 years of age.”
- St. Kitts and Nevis Coast Guard Tis the maritime arm of the SKNDF. Up until 1997, it was part of the national police force. Headquartered at the Old Factory Pier, Bird Rock, it has its own commander. The Coast Guard Commanding Officer who is responsible for its administration is supported by an executive officer that assists the former. Structurally, the Coast Guard is divided into three sub-units: a headquarters department, an engineering department and a flotilla department. The last consists of five vessels, including the Stalwart. Also, there is a reserve element. During the Bradshaw years, there were plans to start a maritime wing. Captains Errol Maynard and Donald Brooks co-authored a report to this effect, but their recommendations were never implemented. Brooks was a lawyer and member of the reserve section.
- Service and Support (S/S) Platoon is made up of cooks, office personnel, drivers, carpenters, mechanics and others, commanded bt a warrant officer . This very important unit includes an Agricultural Corps of 3 persons. Under the S/S is the armour troop. It previously consisted of three UK-made ferret scout cars, commanded by a staff sergeant. In September 1999, the force's fleet was augmented when four pick-up trucks and one jeep was provided through Foreign Military Financing from the U.S. Department of Defence.
- St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Band The St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Band was started in the early 1930s and is headed by a Director of Music. It has varied in size over the years, from a low of 15 to a high of 48. A sub-set of the Band is the Drum Corps, headed by a Drum Major.
The Defence Board is a requirement of the St. Christopher and Nevis Defence Force Act, Chapter 19.14 of the revised laws of St. Christopher and Nevis. The revised date of the Act is December 2009. The primary function of the Board is to provide support in the running of the SKNDF, which comprises the Infantry and the Coast Guard. The Board has oversight for all the activities of the SKNDF.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Board met on 01 April 2017 to discuss important matters to the development and upkeep of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF). The Board had not met for several years and has pledged to meet regularly. The Board had its first meeting under the Team Unity Administration on January 21, 2016. The four member Defence Board comprises of Chairman, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, who is by law secretary of the Board, Mr. Osmond Petty, and Commander of the SKNDF, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace.
The SKNDF conducts its own basic training, which includes Recruit Course, Trained Soldiers’ Course and a number of advanced individual courses, and also proficiency developmental courses such as Drill, Military Police, Instructors and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers Administration. He added that basic courses in Engineering, Marine Law Enforcement, Boat Coxswain and navigation, among others were conducted at the Coast Guard, while for advanced training, the Defence Force normally seeks the services of its regional counterparts, the British, Canadian and American Armed Forces.
The SKNDF has educational opportunities where persons can apply to be members of the Defence Force and then they get an opportunity to attend one of the US (United States) military academies where they can pursue whatever course they want as long as the discipline is offered there. They graduate with a degree and as a Commissioned Officers and come back to St. Kitts and Nevis and serve. Educational opportunities for those wishing to study at home are provided through a partnership between the SKNDF and the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC). Soldiers also undertake private courses with flexible work schedules that allow appropriate time to attend classes, study and rest.
Premier of Nevis and Minister responsible for Security Hon. Vance Amory expressed gratitude to the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) for its decision to use Nevis as a two-week training ground, to sharpen their skills in crime fighting and disaster response. Amory’s remarks came when he visited the camp for the Reserve Corps of the SKNDF, at the Elizabeth Pemberton Primary School at Cole Hill on August 25, 2016. The two-week camp concludes on August 27, 2016.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force (SKNDF) was on 15 December 2016, boosted by the addition of twenty eight (28) new soldiers to its rank and file following a Recruits Passing out Parade. During the four-month training period, the recruits were put through several rigorous training procedures in areas such as drills, field craft and minor tactics, map reading, first aid application, voice procedures, military law, use of firearms and internal security. Held at the Defence Force Headquarters at Camp Springfield, the 18th Recruit Passing out Parade was attended by Governor General, His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, who performed an inspection of the recruits.
Prime Minister Harris publicly thanked the recruits for choosing the path of service to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. “I am quite aware that military service is a life of uncompromising standards and one of sacrifice. I want to encourage all of the recruits here standing to hold fast to the good ideals and the professional standards to which you are exposed through this particular training. The history, tradition and reputation of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force combined with the quality of the course and the demanding nature of the training, which the recruits have undergone, should give us all great confidence that these young citizens would join the more seasoned and experienced soldiers in the defence force. We are proud of all these recruits — proud that they had the courage to persevere and the courage to succeed”.
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