Dillon must win the war—or surrender

By Raffique Shah
April 08, 2017

Raffique ShahIn case you have not noticed, Trinidad and Tobago is gripped by war. Maybe I should rephrase that: there are several wars raging across the country. I wish I could say “civil war”, But there is nothing civil in the barbaric rules of engagement that seem to allow for one side to catch the other off-side and blaze them with bullets, only to have shooters from the home side exact revenge when the opportunity arises.

These are wars without reason. The police tell us that the thugs are fighting over drug turfs, meaning control over the sale of marijuana and cocaine in districts where the trade is lucrative—right? That should translate into big bucks, hence, one would assume, sprawling mansions a la Dole Chadee, whose Piparo palace was seized by the State and converted into a drug rehabilitation centre.

Not so with these warring elements: when we see video-clips and photographs of where they live, fight and die, all we see are ramshackle hovels, shacks that have bare essentials, sometimes not even running water. Invariably, galvanise latrines litter the landscape, and a mass of children and women who look like refugees from famine-hit Sudan, perform for the media.

Which begs the question: what are they fighting over? It can’t be money—not big money anyway. The only thing they have in common, I repeat, is they inhabit the slums.

The late social activist Hal Greaves, who did tremendous work in reducing gang-wars in the East PoS environs, would have given me an “A” for identifying poverty as a root cause of these bloody wars. But Hal will also agree with me that poverty is no excuse for crime, certainly not the heinous murders that have taken the lives of a few thousand young black men, some of them mere children, over the past decade.

Hal, who passed on last year, was, like me, from a generation that knew real poverty, when kerosene lamps were a luxury in barrack rooms or dirt houses, and when the children of such families who might have been lucky to eat one good meal a day, attended school barefoot and in the one uniform their parents could afford, yet garnered an education or acquired skills that would see them clamber out of poverty.

And they dared not steal or rob anyone: their parents and communities would beat them senseless, such were the punishments for dishonouring the codes of neighbourly coexistence when the village raised its children.

But I digress: I am addressing the many wars that are taking lives like ninepins. I pointed out that almost always, the victims, who, in a reverse scenario might be the perpetrators, are unarmed at the time they are killed. There is hardly ever a firefight—bullets coming at you, you shooting at the “enemy”. If ever these punks come up against hostile fire, especially from professionally-trained personnel, they’d urinate and defecate themselves before they die like the rabid dogs they are.

Now, we have at least 2,000 soldiers who are trained to do precisely these things—to move tactically, to attack using available cover and smite the enemy with selective but deadly fire. We have hundreds of commissioned officers who are trained to plan and execute operations that would mesmerise gangsters who have had their way for far too long. There are strategic devices that the army can employ to seal targeted districts and flush out the gunmen and their associates.

Today’s military technology includes surveillance drones, CCTV cameras, and cellphone jamming equipment that support the ground troops during such operations. While search-and-destroy might be unacceptable in our jurisdiction, maim-and-capture should be no problem. Armed with good intelligence and countering leaks to criminals from a sieve-like Police Service with near-secrecy, how long will it take the army to flush out the 1,000-or-fewer murderers who are terrorising the nation? Six months? One year?

It can be done. It needs to be done. Why it has not been done defies explanation. Why Major General Edmund Dillon chose instead to walk through the hottest spots in Enterprise and engage in gun-talk with known criminals, rather than let the soldiers use their military hardware to speak in the only language they understand, the staccato chant of machine-gun-fire, defies logic.

It is he, as National Security Minister and a career soldier, who must advise the civilians in Government on what can be done, what must be done, to restore some sanity to the madness that is consuming the country.

His predecessors failed. They, too, with their prime ministers, paraded through “hotspots” with heavily-armed escorts and media personnel: what did they achieve? Exactly what we are reaping today!

Major General Dillon must either do things differently, professionally, or surrender to the criminals by resigning from office, in which case the entire Government must resign.

In war, there are only victors and the vanquished: will you fall on your sword, Major General?

For all their crowing, the other political parties can do no better. So failure now will mean, for the population, “all ah we ar*e dark”.

8 Responses to “Dillon must win the war—or surrender”


  • Yes Shah you are right but I do not think you may know the root cause of all the happenings NOT JUST CRIME in our beloved T&T. Connections is the cause. When you are white or brown or have straight hair in your day you can get Connections. Most of us had to migrate after black power for fear that UWI was theirs. Now is more than just pull string at the top. We found our degrees ment nothing in Fedchem or even Point Lisas. That was for the PNM boys and their friends. Thats what Billy said I have to pull my PNM strings when the French creole and their white friends with no degrees took over. Billy of course was a big boy in Point Lisas all of the past 30 plus years. He had no degree. Loquan is boss of NGC with no engineering expertise. Fitzroy is boss at Petrotrin with his father’s connections and I can go on. We became poor with a degree in hand. My daughter is a national scholarship winner unlike Julien with no job here in T&T for her under the PPP government. Thats the criminal roots fostering for the last 40 years….many poor and few filthy rich. Remember whem Ram Kirpalani put his people in jobs with huge salaries and did nothing. All fell down like now

  • Well said Comrade, but today’s soldiers(Dillon and Co.) have no testicular fortitude.Neither the police of T&T.Evil men will wax worse and worse.There is no solution.

  • Well Raff, I tried reading this Guardian article
    *Dillon: More than a name change needed* and I’m totally confused..

    *A police station will be built in the area soon. An Assistant Commissioner of Police for the Central area has been appointed. At a briefing last Friday on a “peace deal”, reputed gang leader Abdul “Krysis” Wakeel announced the group’s name change.*

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2017-04-09/dillon-more-name-change-needed

    Strange that no one is asking, Does T&T still have an Anti Gang Act.
    I mean, The UNC AG Ramolgan jailed 9000 Africans under this law..
    But The PNM AG cannot get this one ‘Gang Leader’.. We must ask, why… is it because unruly IsIs Gang Leader looks like Al Rawi?
    And the thing about it, I have only seen ‘little black boys’ being killed in this Enterprise episode.. Egged on by an Indian ‘gang leader’…

  • Major General Dillon need not be told or advised how to his job. He is a well tested strategist whose command and control along with situational awareness is brilliant. He is the quintessential soldier of soldiers a man to be admired and applauded. Thus far he is doing extremely well in containing the criminal elements.

    He inherited a police political culture that is deeply entrenched in the psyche of the old guard. People who is there because they were promoted by virtue of long service. A police service that is controlled by donkeys who cannot lead young lions. Most of all a police that is corrupted whose solve ratio is less than 10%. Yes I do not want to subtract from decent officers who work very hard to find the criminals. Those officers are the unsung heroes of the nation. They work in a police political culture that can be challenging to their morale and restrictive to upward mobility.

    The future begins today and Dillon has to come out of the darkness and hit the ground where the criminals are. He has to lead with presence and power. He walked in Central and met with community leaders, just one move, but already two gangs have abandon their names and are willing to share information on police corruption. Only Dilly could do that. As he become more visual and engaging things will change. His office yields tremendous power and he needs to explore that power further.

    Yes we do have a high murder rate and much more can be done. Dilly has two more ministers in that portfolio and they need to hit the ground when he can’t…

  • Well Raff, old school of eating one good meal, and going to school barefoot I believe is what led us to coin the phrase below our Coat of Arms as well as the independence calypso from Lord Brynner especially these 2 verses:
    ‘Because this is your land, just as well as my land
    This is your place and also it is my place
    So let us put our heads together
    And live like one happy family
    Democratically, educationally,
    We’ll be independently.
    31st of August, Independence
    1962, Independence
    Will go down in history for everyone of you
    Forget racialism and nationalism too
    Let discipline, production, and
    Tolerance guide us through Independence’
    The question begs itself where do we stand today with our watch words of discipline, production and tolerance almost after 55 years? It appears we are a nation that is literally moving backwards never forward progressing. The only thing appears to be some buildings and highways constructed over those years. We are the retrogressive bunch of citizens that has become ill-disciplined, un-productive and intolerant with one another. I do not need to submit links here because the media provides doses of such on a daily basis. This goes for all in the echelons of our society from the board room directors and leaders in our government to the respective beggars’ unions. I have heard of a German walking in the streets of Chaguanas looking at the tardy work of the telephone company (loose wires hanging) and stating ‘what a half arse country this is. In previous submissions I have referred to the loose alignment of tribalism with race and I have categorically stated this is a complete disguise because there is a prominence in our society of superiority within the races themselves and that is where the problem lies. This idea of a village bringing up a child is long gone. Neighbours getting shot up and we only know of it hours after. Why? Because, we are too dammed scared to come out of our ‘shells’ to check on one another. Like you, I like the statement of those renegades given the opportunity to dance to the music of trained hands handling the guns or in simple language give them the chance to defecate or urinate themselves. I bet you would have a ton of condemnation coming your way from the church clergy and human rights watch groups both local and international. We need to take control of our own destiny. After all, ‘Together we aspire together we achieve’.

  • Shah I watched a NCIS show lately with GIS the new tech. applied. In this remote African country where numerous terror gangs like in our country exist the head NCIS a celebrated navy seal and his crew of two (and two guides) went after a doctor and his assistances who were kidnapped after the small African gang and his 20 plus army left many dead in the camp where they were. The story went like this. In another african country nearby was a general who needed an important surgical operation and was the chief behind the kidnapping. Hence this fully armed gang was paid a huge sum to bring the surgeon and his assistances to him by any means. These NCIS agents gradually learnt the plot when of course the intelligence became available and as usual with all these plots the NCIS had to operate behind the law and achieve their purpose with little help from the system. You would know why. The point here SHAH is how the GIS technology worked out. The show climaxed when they came upon the camp of the gang. And in NCIS stationed in the USA used the technology to quickly fly in an armed helicopter to engage the enemy as they followed their team on the ground and noting the terrain and the angle of attack ( continual communications all the way with no joke Bmobile or other internet). Hence when the gang retaliated with immense fire revealing their positions the helicopter was able as the NCIS group of five were out numbered and completely took cover from the small army, with better equipped hardware. The helicopter went in for the final kill. Hence SHAH you cannot use dunsy people and poor equipment to handle this situation. Whenever I see the helicopter hovering over my house….two things come to mind …how much of my tax dollar is paying for that and is he achieving anything with this ill-equipped expensive machine. Again square pegs no doubt in rounded holes. CONNECTIONS – shah. Some rich perhaps french creole like Trump in The Florida camp belonging to him smiles all the way to the bank.

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