Cayman and UK officials are planning to work cooperatively to establish a Cayman Regiment that would be focused on responding to natural disasters on the island and in the region.
The plan was announced Friday afternoon in a press conference with visiting UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster, Gov. Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin. The three said they plan to have a force of 30 to 35 personnel, mostly reservists, in place by this time next year.
The decision follows discussions over the last 10 months between the two governments. Lancaster travelled to Cayman this week to meet with the Roper and McLaughlin to discuss first steps in establishing the regiment. He said the initial core force would likely be trained as engineers.
Lancaster said he got the idea for the force on a trip to the Caribbean last year.
“It would be useful for the overseas territories to have their own capacity” for emergency response, he said. “This will be locally recruited and locally led.”
A team of UK military and civilian experts from the UK Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office plan to deploy to Cayman before the end of the year to conduct an operational needs assessment. This scoping exercise will evaluate the level of UK support required to establish the regiment. Initial assistance from the UK is likely to take the form of logistical advice and support but will develop further to include operational training and equipment.
McLaughlin said the move would allow Cayman to do even more than it has in recent disasters, such as sending teams to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
“We’ve demonstrated how much we care about our brothers and sisters across the region,” he said.