The RSS Contigent in SVG had the honour to host the Antigua Barbuda Defence Forcce Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Colonel Telbert Benjamin, and Commissioner of Police (CoP) Atlee Rodney along with Acting Force Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class 1 D Melius.
Under the direction of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Desmond Dinard, the forces commanders addressed the body of troops which included members of forces from Antigua, St Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, St Vincent, and St Lucia. ACP Dinard indicated that their living and working environment were satisfactory and there was not a high level of unrest or threat for their operations thus far.
The CDS and CoP both emphasised on the importance that the service of the RSS body represents to SVG in their recovery efforts, and the wider caribbean as a unified region in response to disaster. The two leaders enthusiastically encouraged building relationships and friendships across the forces to further enable networking among the regional bodies. Quote” One day it may be my country in need of that same help after a disaster or major event affecting our nations.”
Before returning to the airport, an incursion into the Red Zone was conducted so that the CDS and CoP could have a first hand appreciation of the level of devastation and destruction that the La Soufriere eruption caused to the area and the nation on a whole. Many houses, infrastructure, and roads were severely damaged. Road work could be seen taking place to enable persons to return to their homes.
The major damage as reported by Senior RSVPF was to farms as any farmers were preparing to harvest their crops when the eruption took place. The pyroclastic flow had wreaked devastating havok to these areas also.
Despite these circumstances, there was an air of strength and resilience about the persons who were seen rebuilding their roofs, and shoveling away ash from the streets and driveways.
With Welfare Visit having gone well, the entourage returned to the airport and bid farewell to the troops and St Vincent and Grenadines. The members of ABDF and RPFAB stand always ready to serve our nation, and even more our sister islands across the region.
Special commendations to the RSS Airwing Pilots whose service was exceptional during flights, with skillfully smooth take-off and landings.