BRIGADIER General Roland Maunday, the country's new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), yesterday said the country's crime situation must be dealt with in a holistic and collective way.
Maunday, with effect from yesterday, replaced Edmund Dillon who, on his retirement, was elevated to the rank of Major General. He is the second Brigadier General in the history of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) to be promoted to such rank after retired Major General Ralph Brown, who also served as CDS.
The handing-over ceremony took place yesterday at Teteron Barracks in Chaguaramas. The recommendation to elevate Dillon to the highest rank in the army came from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
President George Maxwell Richards, Commander-in-Chief of all Armed Forces, who addressed those gathered at the handing-over parade, reflected extensively on the achievements of both Dillon and Maunday. Richards said the time has come for change, and as Dillon moves on to another chapter in his life, he (Richards) remained certain Dillon's next manifestation will be as fulfilling as the one he is leaving behind.
"They (Maunday and Dillon) are both people-oriented as their history, in so far as the military's family support system, shows. That is no small thing and a major contributor to the development of a more caring and gentler society.
"We need have no fear that these words may make negative inroads in a service that must have discipline as its bedrock. We look to the Defence Force to not waver in that regard but to maintain the highest standards," Richards said.
National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy also spoke at the ceremony, reminiscing on the good times had with Dillon when he (Sandy) was a soldier.
Delivering his maiden speech as CDS, Maunday, who was also promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, promised the TTDF, under his command, will work closely with other law-enforcement agencies who share one common goal.
He said, "We confront an imperative to refine our forces' systems and processes to support a force that is uniquely employed with law enforcement in the fight against crime.
"Let us remember that we cannot do it alone. We need partners in the fight. We must continue to engage the local Government units, line agencies, NGOs, people's organisations, the churches and religious sector. We need civil society support. After all, what we are up against is a social menace. Crime is everyone's concern."
He said there is a need for continuous training and recruitment, which would produce the men and women with the appropriate skills for a growing transformation which the TTDF is undergoing.
The past four years, Maunday said, has been an important and challenging period, in which the TTDF went into transformation mode.
"The force, under my stewardship, now must move into a new transition and implementation as we continue to transform," he said.
In the not-too-distant future, he said, the TTDF would be able to, "share our thoughts and priorities we need to set and the initiatives we must pursue in our transformation journey while keeping the force sharp, disciplined and ready for the present-day challenges. In the meantime, let us all stand and work together to keep the Defence Force committed, strong, and ready", Major Gene- ral Maunday said.
Maunday promised he would work with every member of the service and ensures no one is left unattended.
"I will be here not only to give directives, but to listen as well. While pursuing the mission mandated upon the force, we must ensure that your well-being and welfare are given the highest priority," Maunday said.
According to Maunday, as professionals, they must promote, protect and defend human rights. He also promised to work and conduct himself in a manner that secures trust, "and I confidently declare that I accept the challenge".