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Partap announces plans to restart Elite Cadet programme
Minister in the Ministry of National Security Collin Partap yesterday rolled out several plans for the T&T Cadet Force. Speaking at the closing ceremony of Camp Costelloe at Carapichaima East Secondary School in Freeport yesterday, Partap announced the re-establishment of the Elite Cadet programme, a permanent training cadet base and plans to introduce cadets into 25 other schools by the end of the year.
National Security Minister Jack Warner, who attended the training camp opening two weeks ago, was scheduled to be there, but according to Partap, Warner was called to an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Apologising for Warner’s absence, Partap said, “I know Mr Warner wanted to be here today, but he was unavoidably called to the Prime Minister’s residence for some urgent talks.”
Asked afterwards about the nature of the meeting, Partap sought to downplay its urgency, saying, “Usually the Prime Minister calls the Minister of National Security to account for programmes or issues that took place over the last week.” He said Warner wanted to attend the function, but: “When the PM calls, you have to be there.”
In his address, Partap said the Elite Cadet programme was established previously, but went into dormancy. “We want to re-establish that programme, where Elite Cadets would train with the defence forces.” He said under another programme, cadets interested in other fields, such as medicine, accounting and engineering could train with professionals in the private and government sector during vacations.
Saying he was immensely impressed by the cadets’ demonstration of tactical operation and their parade, Partap said, “I promise you next year’s passing-out parade and camp will be held in your own facility.” He said the current facility would be temporary until they could be provided with a permanent high-level training facility.
Interviewed afterwards Partap said the decommissioned Couva West Secondary School would be used temporarily as the cadet training facility. Next week, he said, he would be meeting with Agriculture Minister Devant Maharaj to finalise plans to acquire Caroni lands to set up a proper training facility. And come September, he said, they will begin introducing cadets in every school.
T&T Cadet Commandant Lt Col Patrick Taylor said Vishnu Boys’ High School would be the first and by the end of the year it was expected that there would be cadets in 25 schools, with another 15 by the end of the following year. Commenting on the Prisons Service being shifted to the Ministry of Justice, Partap said he will be assisting with the transition, since the prisons service previously fell under his purview.
He said the Prisons Service was previously under both ministries. “It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to put it wherever she wants to put it,“ he added. “The reason being you can’t have the Prisons Service split in two.”
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