Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Submission from Mr Robert Masters, Bermuda

  Once again it is that time of the year when new recruits are inducted into the Bermuda Regiment at the annual Boot Camp. The media seems to have little else to cover at this time of year and revel in every minute detail of the new recruits' experiences, especially the abuse shown to the new recruits. I am appalled every time I see a Bermuda Regiment recruit being treated like a criminal in our courts.

  My purpose for writing this letter is to ask a simple question: What is the purpose of the Bermuda Regiment in 2008? What is the purpose of learning to march and handle a gun in peacetime?

  The Regiment grew out of Bermuda's colonial past and may have had some purpose during the World Wars but there is no longer a need for an Army in Bermuda. What a shame it is that we have to teach our young men how to use weapons of war. We should be teaching them that peace and diplomacy are mightier than the sword.

  The Bermuda Regiment should not exist simply for the sake of "offering discipline, life skills and structure" to young men, as this is the responsibility of parents, schools and society in general. Why should the Bermuda Regiment be held responsible for teaching discipline and respect to our young men?

  Few Western nations require their young to serve in their Armies. If Bermuda wishes to continue to have a Bermuda Regiment, they should make it a volunteer organisation. Those who wish to serve could do so and the Regiment could attract candidates by offering free education such as the Military Services in the USA. Bermuda does not need a conscripted Army but maybe something like the National Guard in the USA to be called upon in emergencies. I am sure the morale of the troops would improve with an all-volunteer organisation.

  The military can be a career for some but it is not an environment that is healthy for others. I hope that all politicians will think about the need for a permanent Army and see the way in the future to change the Regiment from a mandatory obligation for our young men to a volunteer organisation which encourages members of both sexes to join.

25 January 2008

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