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Bermuda warns soldiers against drugs ahead of Jamaica trip

Friday, April 27, 2012 | 9:27 AM    

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – Soldiers from the Bermuda Regiment, who are to arrive this weekend for a gruelling two-week annual training exercise in the mountains of Jamaica, have been warned not to get involved in any illegal activity.

Troops taking part in 'Exercise Rum Runner' will put their on-island training to use in the testing environment of Jamaica's Blue Mountains.

Some soldiers in the past have been caught with illegal drugs on their return to Bermuda and the newly-appointed Regimental Sergeant Major Gavin Rayner warned them any involvement in illegal activity during their down-time would not be tolerated.

He added that, if any soldier was arrested by the Jamaican authorities he and Regimental Adjutant Captain Ben Beasley “wouldn’t be in a rush” to get them out of Jamaica’s tough prison system.

Beasley said that officers and other ranks would have all their possessions searched on the outward and home flights.

Lieutenant Shea-Tai Smith, who took part in a 2010 trip to Jamaica, said overseas exercises, even in a recession, were worth the money and vital to building team spirit among recruits – and gave them space not available in Bermuda to ensure realistic exercises.

Smith said: “Exercises that the troops engage in while in Jamaica are primarily team-building and allow unlikely leaders to step up to the plate.

“Bermuda always needs to have a capable and well-trained unit prepared for emergencies. In case of a security issue or hurricane, the troops’ overseas training equips them to respond effectively and ensure public safety.

“Bermuda does not have the space for troops to carry out some of the tasks they are required to do to the full extent.

“Overseas camps also include experiences in the US, Canada and England – these prove to be equally valuable because of the different and unique facilities they offer.”

The Bermuda Regiment's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Gonsalves, added: “The Regiment’s almost biannual role of post-hurricane relief is well practised for in Jamaica as the soldiers have to work in thick vegetation, without electricity and in extreme heat, while remaining focussed and dedicated to the task at hand.”

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