Cayman Regiment takes shape
In a bid to strengthen Cayman’s emergency response to a variety of threats to the Islands, the concept of developing a military regiment in the Cayman Islands was first brought to life last year. A long time vision of the Premier, the opportunity to form a defence force was created in February with the selection of nine senior and junior officers. In June, the Regiment took the next step of recruiting 51 reservists to make up the main body of the regiment, comprised of men and women who were British Overseas Territories citizens, as well as citizens from Britain, Ireland and other Commonwealth countries, all of whom had permanent residency in the Cayman Islands. Considering the fact that Cayman had just moved into hurricane season, as well as being firmly in the middle of the coronavirus global pandemic, this was a bold but necessary move, the Governor said. At that time, Governor Martyn Roper said the move at that time was highly appropriate and stated:
“I’m delighted that even in the midst of the current crisis we are continuing to move forward with the recruitment programme. Advancing the Cayman Regiment during a global pandemic is a significant achievement. I would like to thank the commander of the regiment, UK SAT team and my own staff for delivering this at great pace under much pressure.”
On the 31st May, five Cayman Regiment officers began a rigorous training programme at the UK’s top military training academy for junior officers, Sandhurst, where they joined 87 other individuals on the highly demanding course.
Halston Farley, Theo Kelly, Shanice Kelly, Gabe Rabess and Jonassi Swaby did the country proud, surviving the eight week course, finishing on 25th July, and eventually receiving their Queens Commissions at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, thereby transitioning from cadet to officer.
A total of 92 students took part in the passing out parade held at the end of the training, which included the five Cayman officers and also one from Bermuda. Halston Farley impressed the Instructing team so much that he received an award for Best International Student.
Former Minster for Armed Forces Mark Lancaster, who is a Brigadier in the UK Reserves, also attended and met up with the team to congratulate them. He visited Cayman last year and said he was pleased to see the plans he initiated coming to fruition.
Of the five Officers, Governor Roper stated: “We can all be proud of our officers performing so well at the top military training establishment in the world. Excellent Ambassadors for our islands.”
Cayman’s Hazard Management team also praised the five and stated: “This is an incredibly exciting addition to the emergency response capabilities in Cayman - HMCI looks forward to working closely with Gabe, Farley, Shanice, Jonassi and Theo as well as the whole Regiment team. Teamwork to make the dreamwork!”
HMCI’s Director Danielle Coleman and Deputy Director Simon Boxall recently hosted a disaster management and hazard preparedness presentation for the Cayman Regiment, as a primary function for them will be to conduct disaster response and recovery operations, both in the Cayman Islands and possibly elsewhere within the Caribbean.
It is anticipated that the first reservists will be available to the Cayman Islands by the end of August.