Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force emblem.svg
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force emblem
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Flag.svg
Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force flag
Founded1 June 1962; 60 years ago (1962-06-01)
Service branchesGround Forces
Coast Guard
Air Wing
Defence Force Reserves
HeadquartersChaguaramas
WebsiteOfficial website
Leadership
Commander-in-ChiefPaula-Mae Weekes
Minister of National SecurityFitz Gerald Hinds
Chief of Defence StaffAir Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel
Personnel
Military age18 (17 with parental consent)
Active personnel4600
Reserve personnel600
Expenditures
Percent of GDP0.3%
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Trinidad and Tobago

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) is the military organization responsible for the defence of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It consists of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard and the Defence Force Reserves.

Organisation

Established in 1962 after Trinidad and Tobago's independence from Great Britain, the TTDF is one of the largest Military forces in the English speaking Caribbean. Its mission statement is to "defend the sovereign good of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, contribute to the development of the national community and support the State in the fulfillment of its national and international objectives". The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is made up of four distinct arms; The Regiment/"Army", the Coast Guard (TTCG), the Air Guard and the Defence Force Reserves, which all fall under the authority of the Ministry of National Security. The TTDF has the world's only Military steelband.

The Commander in Chief of the Defence Force is the country's President, Paula-Mae Weekes. The current Chief of Defence Staff is Air Vice Marshall Darryl Daniel, who replaced Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard upon his retirement on 25 March 2019.

Regiment (Army)

Main article: Trinidad and Tobago Regiment

Trinidad and Tobago soldier in training.
Trinidad and Tobago soldier in training.

The Trinidad and Tobago Regiment (TTR) is the main ground force element of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. It has approximately 3000 men and women, organized into four (4) battalions and a Regiment Headquarters. The regiment has two primary roles; Maintaining the internal security of Trinidad and Tobago and support to civil law enforcement. The current Commanding Officer is Colonel Peter Ganesh.

Also, as one of the larger military forces in the region, the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment is also one of the main units used in peacekeeping and humanitarian situations from the Caribbean region.

Although it is called the Trinidad & Tobago Regiment, the TTR is in fact structured more like a light infantry brigade, with a pair of infantry battalions, plus engineering and logistic support units:

1st Battalion (Infantry), Trinidad and Tobago Regiment: This is a light infantry battalion. It is located at Camp Ogden, Long Circular Road, St James.

2nd Battalion (Infantry), Trinidad and Tobago Regiment: This is also a light infantry battalion. Formerly located at Camp Mausica, since then it has been relocated to the Chaguaramas Heliport and La Romain.

3rd Battalion (1st Engineer Battalion): This provides engineering support, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It is located at Camp Cumuto, Wallerfield.

4th Battalion (Support and Service Battalion): This provides logistic and administrative support for the regiment. It is located at the Teteron Barracks, Teteron Bay, Chaguaramas.

The Regiment also maintains a Camp Omega, at Chaguaramas, which is used primarily for infantry training.

Special Forces

Trinidad and Tobago has a unique and highly trained group of special forces that is tasked to fulfill counter narcotics and counter terrorism operations. Soldiers are sent to the United States or the United Kingdom for their training. Their motto is "To Find a Way." There is also a secret elite branch of the TTCG their name Special Naval Unit (SNU).

Coast Guard

Naval Ensign
Naval Ensign

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is the seagoing branch of the TTDF which was established on 1 June 1962 and commissioned into service less than 3 months later on 27 August 1962. The Coast Guard consists of a number of vessels designated CG<number>. The current Commanding Officer is Captain Don Polo.

Its mission statements is "To Defend the Sovereign Good of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and to provide on a continuous basis, quality service for security and safety within the Maritime Boundaries, and in any other area of responsibility agreed to by the State to fulfill its International Obligations".

Its motto is "Service Before Self".

The Coast Guard is primarily involved with Drug Trade interdiction as well as Search and Rescue within the waters of Trinidad and Tobago and neighbouring Islands.[1] However, the Coast Guard has been involved in major incidents. During the 1970 Army Mutiny in Trinidad and Tobago, the Coast Guard prevented the mutineers from convoying to Port of Spain by firing on an access road from the Regiment base at Teteron Barracks in Chaguaramas. The Coast Guard also played a role during the 1990 Jamaat al Muslimeen coup attempt, providing logistical and naval support to the ground forces of the Regiment, posted outside the besieged city limits.

National Roles of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard include:

Operational Tasks

Fleet

Between 2001 and 2016 the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard fleet included TTS Nelson, an Island-class patrol vessel purchased from the Royal Navy.[2]

In April 2007, the Coast Guard contracted for three offshore patrol vessels from VT Shipbuilding (later BAE Systems Surface Ships) in Portsmouth, England. Construction of the Port of Spain-class corvettes Port of Spain, Scarborough and San Fernando suffered significant delays and, in September 2010, though substantially complete, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago cancelled the order.[3] The Brazilian Navy acquired all three ships as their Amazonas-class corvettes.

On 29 April 2015 the Ministry of National Security placed orders with the Dutch company Damen Shipbuilders for four 51-metre (167 ft) 28-knot (52 km/h; 32 mph) coastal patrol vessels, two 54-metre (177 ft) fast utility boats and six 11-metre (36 ft) 53-knot (98 km/h; 61 mph) interceptors.[4][5][6]

In August 2018, the government contracted with Austal to build two Cape-class patrol boats at Henderson, Western Australia, scheduled for delivery in mid-2020.[7] The two vessels, Port of Spain and Scarborough were delivered to the TTCG in May 2021.[8]

Scarborough at Portsmouth in 2010
Scarborough at Portsmouth in 2010
Quinam in 2016
Quinam in 2016
Port of Spain before delivery in 2021
Port of Spain before delivery in 2021
Vessel Hull No. Origin Shipbuilder In service Notes
Offshore patrol vessels
TTS Nelson[2] CG 20 United Kingdom Hall, Russell 2001-2016 former HMS Orkney
TTS Nelson II CG 60 China 2015- former Chinese surveillance vessel[9]
TTS Port of Spain CG 41 Australia Austal 2021- Cape class
TTS Scarborough CG 42 Australia Austal 2021- Cape class
Coastal patrol vessels
TTS Scarlet Ibis[10] CG 11 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Hibiscus[10] CG 12 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Humming Bird[10] CG 13 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Chanonia[10] CG 14 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Poui[10] CG 15 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Teak[10] CG 16 Australia Austal Scarlet Ibis class
TTS Speyside[11] CG 25 Netherlands Damen Stan Patrol 5009
TTS Quinam[11] CG 26 Netherlands Damen Stan Patrol 5009
TTS Moruga[11] CG 27 Netherlands Damen Stan Patrol 5009
TTS Carli Bay[11] CG 28 Netherlands Damen Stan Patrol 5009
Support vessels
TTS Point Lisas[12] CG 23 Netherlands Damen 2015- Stan Patrol 5009
TTS Brighton[13] CG 24 Netherlands Damen Stan Patrol 5009; referred to as La Brea during construction[12]

Air Guard

Air Guard badge
Air Guard badge
Air Guard roundel
Air Guard roundel

The Air Wing of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence force was formed on 15 February 1966, and was initially part of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and was called the Air Wing of the Coast Guard or the Air Wing. In 1977, it was separated as its own entity. In 2005 it was renamed the Trinidad & Tobago Air Guard (TTAG). Its bases are at Piarco International Airport, Crown Point International Airport, and the Heliport at Chaguaramas. Its purposes are to protect and patrol Trinidad and Tobago's airspace, and is also used for transport, search and rescue, and liaison. The current commander of the Air Guard is Group Captain Kester Weekes. He has taken command of the unit in 2019, succeeding Air Commodore Daryl Daniel upon his promotion to Chief of Defence Staff in March 2019.[14]

Aircraft

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Maritime Patrol
C-26B Metro United States maritime patrol 2[15]
Helicopters
AgustaWestland AW139 Italy utility / SAR 4[16]

Its former fleet of aircraft included: One Cessna 337 (O-2A) Skymaster (1966–1972), One Cessna 402 Utililiner (1972–1998), four Aérospatiale Gazelle (1973–1995), One Cessna 172 Skyhawk (1991–1998), Two Piper Navajo 2000–2009, One Cessna 310 1985-2011

Four Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters was intended to be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions related to search and rescue, border patrol and drug interdiction. Due to lack of funding for maintenance, all helicopters was grounded since 2017.[16] In December 2020, The Minister of National Security announced that one AW139 is back up in the air.[17]

The Minister of National Security announced that the establishment of a military airfield, construction of an operations/administrative building at the Piarco Air Station and new helicopters would be purchased to equip the Air Guard. The minister also promised training from various international bodies. Cabinet agreed to the change of rank designations from naval to the corresponding aviation designations and the creation of 66 ranks on the establishment of the Air Guard.

Defence Force Reserves

Flag of Defence Force Reserves
Flag of Defence Force Reserves

The Defence Force Reserves, previously called the Volunteer Defence Force, is the non-active duty arm of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Its mission statement is "To be a highly professional, well-trained combat-ready force that will respond effectively in support of our regular forces and the national community". The Defence Force Reserves is capable of providing reinforcement and be a force multiplier in the event that the Defence Force is called upon to carry out its roles of aid to the civil power. Established in September 1963, its primary purpose at that time was to provide essential reinforcements to the regular force. Today, those roles have grown to include assisting in the promotion of hemispheric and international security and development, with a well-equipped force, trained in a broad range of disciplines and actively involved in community development. In recent years, the Reserves have been called out to assist with law enforcement and most recently to assist with the security in Trinidad's hosting the 5th Summit of the Americas in 2009.

Ranks

Main article: Military ranks of Trinidad and Tobago

References and links

  1. ^ Susan Mohammed (2 March 2017). "T&T Coast Guard in $837 million drug bust: ...fishing vessel intercepted off Suriname". Trinidad Express. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017. THE Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard partnered with the United States Coast Guard and other Caribbean countries in a drug-bust that led to the interception of over $837 million worth of cocaine.
  2. ^ a b "Another addition to the Fleet of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard". Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  3. ^ Sibun, Jonathan (22 September 2010). "BAE faces £150m hit as Trinidad and Tobago cancels drug-busting patrol ship deal - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Signing of Shipbuilding Contracts and Overall Agreement for construction of Naval Assets" (PDF). Ministry of National Security. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  5. ^ "The T&T Coast Guard is getting these naval vessels". Trinidad Express Newspapers. 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard contracts Damen for fleet of coastal patrol craft". Gorinchem: Damen Shipyards Group. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Austal to build two Cape-class patrol boats for Trinidad & Tobago". Naval Technology. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  8. ^ Gonzales, Elizabeth (17 July 2021). "Trinidad and Tobago to partner with Austal in ship-maintenance company". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  9. ^ Dowlat, Rhondor (10 November 2015). "TTS Nelson II hits high seas". Trinidad Tobago Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "High Speed Caribbean Patrol Boats Completed". defencetalk.com Insight. 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d "Global Military Communications" (PDF). DS Air Publications. February 2016. p. 10. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Trinidad Gov't borrowing US$75 million to buy patrol boats". jamaicaobserver. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  13. ^ Dowlat, Rhondor (6 October 2017). "Dillon waits for full report". Guardian. Port-of-Spain. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  14. ^ Trinidad and Tobago Gazzete (PDF). The Government Printer, Republic of Trinidad And Tobago. Vol. 53. 5 November 2014. p. 1.
  15. ^ "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  16. ^ a b Taitt, Ria (20 October 2020). "Grounded copter getting wings again to battle crime". Trinidad Daily Express. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  17. ^ @ttnatsecurity (15 December 2020). "Minister Young: In an effort to ensure that the country got value for money, those helicopters were grounded but an AW139 is back up in the air and there are other air assets that have been used by the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard throughout this whole period of time" (Tweet). Retrieved 10 February 2022 – via Twitter.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)