Commander In Chief Parade Address

A Message By His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC President Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago
and Commander In Chief Of The Arm Forces
On The Occasion Of The Commander In Chief Parade – September 24, 2016

  • Her Excellency Mrs Reema Carmona
  • Doctor the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
  • Major General the Honourable Edmund Dillon, Minister of National Security and Mrs. Dillon,
  • Other Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament and the Senate,
  • Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and other Members of the Diplomatic Corps and your spouses,
  • The Honourable Basdeo Panday former Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Mrs. Panday,
  • Members of the Judiciary
  • Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Rodney Smart and Mrs Smart
  • Heads of Divisions in the Ministry of National Security,
  • Mayors and Aldermen of the respective cities and municipalities,
  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security,
  • Heads of Formations of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force
  • Colonel Peter Sealy, Chief Staff Officer, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force
  • Retired Chiefs of Defence Staff, Officers of Flag Rank, other Officers both serving and retired and their spouses,
  • Force Command Warrant Officer,
  • Senior Enlisted Advisors to Command and other Members of the Warrant Officers, Fleet Chief Petty Officers and Senior Rates Mess, both serving and retired, and their spouses,
  • Men and Women of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force both serving and retired,
  • Members of the Media,
  • Other Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

Our 40th as a Republican State, must be a source of immense pride, for all citizens given the jetsam and flotsam of globalisation and its effects.  Our national achievements and the accomplishments of our nationals on the world stage gives us even greater pride.

As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I look out at this sea of white and I see the Formation Flags flying, symbols of freedom and liberation that must not only warm our hearts but assure us of our sovereignty.  The Defence Force is an unwavering symbol of nationalism, patriotism and duty to country.  The vicissitudes of a country can often try the patience of our patriotism. Patriotism is often the hallmark of a country at peace within itself neither transient, selective nor occasional running deep in times of adversity and in times of plenty.

Due credit must be given to the members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force for your unstinting service on a daily basis to us, the citizens of this great Republic. So many people do not appreciate what you do as servicemen. The hours of practice and coordination, are not the result of happenstance, there are the long nights on patrol of our streets, seas and skies, the days spent with our young person’s being mother and father figures, and the man hours behind the scenes supporting our frontline servicemen. Let me take a moment to recognize our administrative personnel, those who worked especially hard behind the scenes to not only administer our soldiers, sailors and airman, but also to organize this parade. Just like those on the Parade Square, this event could not happen without you and your efforts.

On Tuesday gone, the Office of the President lost its well-known and senior butler Mr Choy Richardson who gave some 39 years of dedicated service to the Office of the President, to his country and all five Commanders in Chief of the Armed Forces. But his is the type of service that far too often goes without recognition and full appreciation. To many, he would be considered a “small man”, someone who people would not even bother to know his name. Despite all of this, remarkably he provided phenomenal service, day in and day out, soldiering on through each and every event hosted by the five Commanders in Chief. I mention this because sometimes we risk not fully appreciating the rank and file of the Defence Force.

It is there that the similarity lies with you the members of the Defence Force. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Reserves continue to provide outstanding service to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at a time when more things in society are uncertain than certain. And just like him, most of Trinidad and Tobago does not know your name or your faces, and many do not realize that what little peace they have is because of you, and the work that you do. On behalf of a grateful Nation, I would like to say thank you and I can assure you that even though it is not often spoken, your services are highly valued and appreciated.

It was such an honour today for me to be able to present the awards to the deserving servicemen here today. To the winners of the President’s Medal for marksmanship, I once again say congratulations for the demonstration of your marksmanship abilities. Such distinction is deserving of such an award. Your level of skill fills me with great hope that one day you will be able to use your talents to bring even greater glory to this Republic. By greater glory I mean Olympic Glory. It is my firm belief that you can and will follow in the footsteps of Roger Daniel and other great military marksmen and continue to traditions they have established. It would always be best to use some of your core competencies to benefit not only yourself but your organization and your country. Just like the Coast Guardsman and Coast Guard Senior Rate of the Year you must continue to set the example for your peers and subordinates and encourage them to seek excellence in all that they do.

I also wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Defence Force as a whole for the sterling support provided in the realization of the vision of the Office of the President to raise the profile of the Republic Day within our land. For far too long, Republic Day was simply another holiday in Trinidad and Tobago and we would never truly appreciate its significance. With the assistance of the Defence Force my dream has become a reality. The staging of the annual Commander in Chief Parade has always been a highlight of the year and it is only so fitting it would be celebrated on the milestone of our Fortieth Anniversary as a Republic.

Your diligent work in the execution of the military career fairs has done so much more for the country than people give you credit for, and while everyone is literally throwing their arms up or threatening to throw their tools down in protest, you continue to literally soldier on, silently toiling in the vineyards to ensure that the wheels of our Republican institution continue to turn.

Your work in the area of environmental conservation and preservation nothing short of remarkable. As President, Commander in Chief and as a global villager, environmental conservation and preservation is of tremendous concern to me and I will continue to fight this good and honourable fight on its behalf with of course your assistance. The First Engineer Battalion Cumoto Barracks has provided yeomen service through their coastal clean-ups, ODPM disaster management and their assistance with the flooding situation that happened not so long ago in Mayaro.  Your Commander in Chief thanks you immensely for your support in this area.

It is no secret that I am very strong advocate for youth empowerment and youth involvement at all levels and in all spheres of life. The Defence Force has been involved in the MLATT and MYPART programmes aimed at developing the competence of young people. Your career guidance initiatives around the length and breadth of this country, from Mayaro to Scarborough helps to culture ambition in young people to join army in the fields of  medicine, law, engineering  and general military life.

The Defence Force of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a pillar of strength, security and resilience for this Nation. Apart from your military training and expertise, you all are qualified in an array of fields. I urge those at the helm to continue to develop the human resource and capacity by sending military officers to learn foreign languages. Currently five members of my staff are taking Mandarin classes at the Confucius Institute. This is how we must develop our greatest resource, the human resource.

Human capital has to be nurtured in a way to meet the pressing needs of globalisation. I advise, suggest and even implore, because I never demand or summoned that language studies and skills be developed and augmented. I feel there is a need for officer to study Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian to meet the demands of globalisation.

I must extend my thanks to the Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Rodney Smart, for his stewardship and continuing the legacy of excellent leadership as established by his predecessor.

To my servicemen and women, my Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force I say, I am proud to be here with you today and I look forward to the good that you continue to bring to all of us, most of all, that deep sense of security and protection.  May God bless you and all your families and may God bless this great Nation.

I thank you.

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