Not impressed with conscription stance

The UBP’s platform states

We will carry out a broad review of the Bermuda Regiment, including its operations and conscription policy to ensure that it is meeting the current social and security needs of our community.

In my opinion, this offers nothing to those who are or will be conscripted. The above statement suggests that dialog will occur from the community perspective, not that of conscripts.

What should be occur is a review to ensure that there is fairness in the practice of conscription and a solid review of why so few choose to volunteer.

Number one.  Conscription is biased and sexist.  If there is to be conscription, it should not be pseudo-random.  Either all are conscripted or non are.  It should also not be sexist, if women are eligible to volunteer they are eligible to be conscripted.

Number two.  Despite the pay increases and new bonus structure, conscripts are still underpaid in comparison to just about any part time job.  This significantly reduces any individual’s willingness to volunteer.  This should be considered alongside other factors to make regiment more attractive to volunteers, enough so to eliminate the need for conscription altogether.

Number three, if a community review is to be conducted while sexist conscription exists, women should not be allowed to have a say.  Equality should be a two way street.

The UBP’s proposal offers nothing to conscripts. 

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3 thoughts on “Not impressed with conscription stance

  1. I hear what you’re saying, Denis.
    I believe Major S. Caton addressed this on Limey some time ago.
    Personally, I see this as an involuntary community service. If there wasn’t so much societal division, conscription wouldn’t be needed. The Regiment does serve a much needed societal need in this regard, and provides structure to many who need it.
    Even though you are there, you are not the one who’ll benefit the most from the experience. The Support Company is the most under-utilized plus to the place. Why not emulate the US forces and use it as a training vehicle? Get skilled tradesmen and technical people such as yourself there to provide training and mentoring, and you’ll see an improvement in the Regiment and Bermuda as a whole.
    My $0.02.

  2. Renaissance Man,
    As I suggested over on Limey in Bermuda, “involuntary community service” should be an all or nothing affair. The random and sexist draft is not helpful. Either all should be required to perform “involuntary community service” or none should.
    I’m not suggesting that the regiment doesn’t have merit and ability to make a great difference. What I’m suggesting is that what the community thinks it achieves is often far from what it actually achieves. From what I’ve seen, very few benefit from the “structure” it provides. As I’ve said in the past, we need to decide what the purpose of the regiment is, is it for national protection or is it for a last ditch effort to deal with wayward youth?
    It’s underfunded and underutilized. If supported properly it could be used in manners such as you suggest and it could be improved to the point where people actively want to join it until there is no need for conscription. Yet this doesn’t happen. As long as it is underfunded and doesn’t get the respect from the community in terms of resources it requires, it fails to live up to it’s potential.
    Properly fund it and offer decent training programs just as you suggest. Give reasonable pay. Get it decent resources and build programs that will encourage people to want to be there.
    I’m not advocating that our leaders wake up on Dec 19th, end conscription and force the regiment to shut down because of it. What I’m advocating is that people be treated fairly. Regiment should be reviewed thoroughly to find out why people don’t volunteer and every single effort should be made to eliminate the need for conscription by increasing volunteers. I certainly don’t accept that today those efforts have been made.
    A major part of that is pay. The pay is a joke even with the recent increases. Soldiers should be paid reasonable wages comparable to a decent part time job. $30 a drill (typically a 2-4 hour evening night) doesn’t cut it. Few are likely to volunteer their time for that.
    The other aspect is opportunity. As you suggest, regiment could be a training vehicle. However, it’s not. Could be and is are two very different things. Few are likely to volunteer for the opportunities that exist today.
    Another is community service. Marching around in a parade like a trained clown doesn’t give a great sense of giving back to the community. For many, the time up there seems like a grand waste and doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve done something positive for our island. More could be done to enhance that feeling that you’re actually doing something for the community aside from being discount labour or synchronized clowns.
    A year into my service and I still stand by the positions I had when I entered.

  3. Agreed on most points. Pay and opportunity are the biggest shortfalls.
    Would you be willing to help advance the training aspects? I do some pro-bono work for the Regiment, would love for them to ACTUALLY think about expanding their positive influence. They were great 10-20 years ago with the Junior Leaders program. Having this back in the schools couldn’t hurt.
    It’s a case of too little, to late with the social issues. Better to catch people long before they get to the troubled stage. Unfortunately, most military institutions fall into the same problems with anti-social youth.
    The drills (as inane as they are) originally were designed to build up people to an equivalent standard of fitness and cohesive thinking/reactions. Pomp and circumstance surrounding them doesn’t reinforce this, tho’. Note that all quasi-military institutions do the same (police/fire/prisons/boy’s brigade/sea cadets) for those reasons.
    At least the more crappy part of your stint is over. Give some thought to Support Company. I’ll try to influence the training from my side.

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