Recruitment for Cayman’s fledgling defence regiment is set to resume, Governor Martyn Roper announced Wednesday.
“We’re … going to push ahead with recruitment of the defence regiment for 50 part-time reservists,” Roper said at the COVID-19 briefing.
In March, plans to recruit officers for the regiment were put on hold because of COVID-19 restrictions as attention was diverted to dealing with the health crisis.
Last December, the National Security Council had authorised an initial force of seven officers and 50 reserve volunteers, all of whom would have been put through initial training and equipped before summer 2020.
Five junior officers completed basic training in February with the Royal Bermuda Regiment. They have been deployed locally on COVID-19 support.
Those officers, Roper announced, will resume their military training.
He said the UK has agreed that the junior officers can go to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for two months of military training at the beginning of next month, “of course, managing all the COVID-19 risks”.
“I do think that is an incredible opportunity. They would have gone to Bermuda for their [additional] training,” he said.
The governor said with the current health crisis, Cayman has “an opportunity to make faster progress with the defence regiment than we had hoped was possible”.
A 12-member UK military team arrived in the Cayman Islands late last month and remain in mandatory isolation. Roper said it is because Cayman has that personnel here “that we are able to make that progress”.
He stressed that Cayman’s regiment will be primarily focussed on hurricane assistance.
“I think it would be a really positive step if we can make progress, in spite of everything that is going on,” he said.
Evacuation flights progress
The governor also stated that work is continuing to secure evacuation flights to India and the Philippines.
He said there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
“I would like to reassure Indian and Philippines nationals that we’re working very hard to arrange evacuation flights for them. My office has been in touch with the British Embassy in Manila and British High Commission in Delhi. I expect to make an announcement on those flights for those nationals very soon,” he said.
Regarding people who require transit visas for those flights, Roper said that there had been “good discussions” with the UK Border Force and “we believe we have solutions around those issues”.
He added that two flights to Miami are on schedule for Friday and “a very small number of seats available”.
“There are 80 people coming back to Cayman on one of those flights, and they will go into mandatory quarantine,” he said.
The flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he said, departs on 17 May and it too has a limited number of seats available.
The flight to Canada departs on 22 May.
Anyone interested in getting on the Miami or Dominican Republic flights can call Cayman Airways direct on 949-2311.