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Joseph: New ranks for Air Guard

By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, January 20 2007

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO is to get its first ever Wing Commander plus several Squadron Leaders following the previous transfer of the air wing of TT Defence Force out of the TT Coast Guard to form a new and autonomous TT Air Guard.

This move was announced on Thursday by Minister of National Security Martin Joseph, at a post-Cabinet media conference at Whitehall. He said the creation of an independent Air Guard had previously been announced by President George Maxwell Richards.

“This new status will require a complement adequate to meet demands of a military aviation body which will conduct its own planning and execution as an independent formation of the Defence Force but under the direction of the Chief of Defence Staff,” Joseph said.

The change requires a change of uniform and rank-designation, and an increase in personnel by 66 people.

Joseph said the Air Guard will have to be boosted by an extra one Wing Commander (equivalent to Lt Colonel in Army or Commander in the Coast Guard), six Squadron Leaders (equivalent to Major in the Army or Lt Commander in the Coast Guard), six Flight Lieutenants (equivalent to captain in the Army or lieutenant in the Coast Guard), plus four Flying Officers, one Warrant Officer, nine Sergeants, 14 Corporals and 20 Aircraft Technicians.

“So we have put the final nail in terms of the Air Guard as an autonomous unit”. Joseph also said Cabinet had approved a request by the United Nations-approved Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to conduct a training programme in Trinidad between January 29 to February 1.

“The reason this training is taking place is part of the preparation for Cricket World Cup (CWC).” He said the training is being done in Trinidad which is the CWC Regional Operations Coordinating Centre. He said Cabinet approved the course being done at the TT defence force and fire service headquarters at Chaguaramas.

Joseph said regional ministers of national security met on 15 January 15 and 16, including Prime Minister Patrick Manning in a “table top exercise” to ensure regional collaboration during the CWC.

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