Having looked at the importance of a National Security Strategy and Policy last week, we will continue to focus on some key recommendations that can be considered for the Ministry as project centred planning is being applied.
The following are key areas of concerns that could be incorporated in our national Security Strategy, as we aim to transform and implement change regarding our upcoming Annual Budget and Expenditure.
• There is a National Drive for education and learning. The Honourable Prime Minister has made this an intentional incentive. It is therefore imperative that the Ministry of National Security begin factoring this initiative into its strategy and planning. There is a very viable opportunity to examine and explore a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for National Security. An establishment of an institution that mirrors a University type setting. This CoE will be structured to provide all levels of training and development and integrate labs, scenario training and situational training. The staffing and resource personnel can be recruited from the retired members of the Public Service ( depending on the discipline) and include also retired, certified and qualified Military and Law Enforcement personnel. Our CoE can be an attractive venture for Training across the region. An institution like this can also focus at Strategies and Policy studies for senior Public Servants and National Security personnel. There are some excellent international models world wide that can be examined in an effort of adopting a workable business methods approach. With this CoE Trinidad and Tobago can embark on Educational Tourism and encourage and invite Regional and International participants.
• The formation of a National Vetting Agency (NVA) – All arms of National Security are engaged in Vetting and Background checks. Over the years there have been cases where the legitimacy and veracity of some of these results have been questioned. This scenario is applicable to all arms of the Protective Services. With the establishment of a National body manned and resourced by a joint agency approach, answerable to an appointed authority of the state and not an agency or service will be more manageable and be able to treat with some of the existing inconsistencies.
• Border Control Management Policy – A thorough review of our Border Control Management plan needs to be conducted with immediate effect. A concept of operations needs to be authored and implemented. A significant aspect of our intended Border Control Management Policy would have to be a robust Maritime Domain Awareness plan. We have been passing attributes of a MDA plan as our Border Control Management Policy. Border Control Management is a whole of government approach and involves heavily the contributions and guidance of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, and the Ministry of Finance ( Customs and Excise)
• The formation of a Maritime Inter-Agency Task Force (MIATF) – This unit should be a joint Task Force involving the TTDF (CG), TTPS (Marine Unit), Immigration, Customs and the Intel Agencies. The Unit should have a specific focus and adopt a zero tolerance approach to the Illegal migration threat.
• Air Capability – The last 5 years was a period of reviewing and fact finding. It was a dormant period for our Air Operations. There should be measures in place to re-introduce our Air Capability. This capability will not only augment our Border Control Management Operations but also lend tremendous support to Law Enforcement and all other vital Ministries. Strategising the way forward for our Air Capabilities is essential in the upcoming period facing National Security.
• The Prime Minister has amplified his pronouncements on prioritizing Agriculture as a strategy of investment and sustainable development going forward. I will continue to advocate that we must adjust our narrative and begin speaking Food Security when we speak Agriculture. Having said that, the TTDF should embark on a Food Security operation. There was a time in history, when the TTDF grew its own food and livestock. This assisted and provided supplies for the TTDF. I do know that times have changed, and the TTDF is much larger today; but the concept should not be laid to rest. The TTDF can begin ‘brain storming’ the introduction of a Youth camp or Civilian Conservation Corps type establishment, to address Agriculture and Food Security. The Ministry can approve the staff for this program through the TTDF Reserves and retirees who are willing to return to the TTDF and give of their time and mentorship to a meaningful solution and incentive that would benefit the state. This establishment can expand to a small business type enterprise and provide an income earning venture for many unemployed youth of Trinidad and yes, Tobago.
These recommendations as said before are considerations and worth the attention by our planners and decision makers, at least at the exploratory discussion phases. I strongly advocate that we consider a Roadmap To Recovery approach for National Security specific. It’s a step in the right direction and the timing is appropriate.