Rumours of War, Weapons of War

By Raffique Shah
May 18, 2014

Raffique ShahMaybe he does not realise it, but by his untimely utterances and seemingly panicked posturing, National Security Minister Gary Griffith is fuelling fear among the populace.

Last Friday, according to news reports, rumours of an imminent coup triggered a virtual self-evacuation of Port of Spain, leading to the early closure of some businesses and traffic jams on roads leading out of the capital city.

Now, the minister had nothing to do with the prank call or Internet posting that prompted the panic. However, two weeks ago, in the wake of the murder of Dana Seetahal, Griffith announced that the country was on “orange alert”. Before that, no one, maybe not even the security forces, knew that there existed a colour-coded system of threats to national security.

Even if the National Security Council instituted such codes, why alert the public to them? And what in Dana’s murder posed a threat to national security? As far as we know, the killers did not follow up their clinical hit with threats or attempts on the lives of other judicial or state officials.

Such alarmist language served only to make people jittery.

Even as he assures the nation that “another 1990 (attempted coup) will not happen under my watch”, Griffith is undermining the very confidence among the population that he seeks to instil.

Again, according to recent reports, the minister is quoted as confirming that Cabinet has purchased 20 armoured SUVs and 15 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for the security forces. What madness is this? Who advised Cabinet to spend US $50 million (my estimate) on war-zone equipment that we do not need?

Is Cabinet convinced that the crime situation in Trinidad has reached the levels of violence that are commonplace in Kabul, Baghdad or Belfast?

APCs are fearsome-looking military vehicles. They resemble tanks, only they do not carry guns as huge as the 120 mm pack howitzer. They are usually armed with 360-degrees, swivel-mounted medium machine guns that pack immense firepower. They carry eight to ten troops, who are protected by armour from rifle and machine gun fire.

One APC, operating with full fire and force in a crime “hot spot” like John John or Bagatelle, can literally level a cluster of maybe 100 houses, killing or maiming hundreds of people, in, say, fifteen minutes. Is that what we want to see in this country?

I know there are many who would respond with a resounding, “Yes!” With crime being endemic, and violence rising to almost epidemic proportions, the majority of people want an end to it—by any means necessary.

But trust me, as someone who trained with APCs, tanks, helicopter gunships and such powerful armaments, you don’t want to go there. There is no turning back, no return to normality once you militarise a country with such firepower.

Look, I am fed up with the crime and criminals and I want to see some semblance of sanity in my country. Our problem in fighting crime is not a lack of firepower—Minister Griffith knows that. Our weakness is in gathering and utilising intelligence, in tracking and trapping the perpetrators, and in bringing them to justice swiftly.

Allow me to do a mini-balance sheet of current firepower. The criminals are armed mostly with semi-automatic pistols that they use indiscriminately. They don’t shoot a victim with two or three rounds: they fire 20 to 30…they empty their magazines. This suggests not only are they poor shots (invariably, they shoot from point blank range), but they must have vast supplies of ammunition.

The police have found a few rifles (mainly AK-47s and AR-15s), and a few sub-machine guns (Uzis, Tech-9s). There is no evidence that these weapons have been used routinely by criminals.

In contrast, the police are armed with the best pistols, sub-machine guns and rifles, which they are trained to use. The armed forces have all of the above plus light and medium machine guns, anti-tank weapons, grenades, mortars and explosives.

In other words, our law-enforcement and other agencies far out-man and out-gun the criminals. They do not need armoured vehicles or APCs as additional firepower. What they need is accurate intelligence that will enable them to identify the culprits and go after them with their current firepower—either bringing them in or taking them out.

Clearly, the weak link in fighting crime is, and has always been, poor gathering of intelligence and the reluctance of agencies so commissioned to share information. I had thought that with the advent of the National Operations Centre, equipped as it is with the most advanced technology, the criminals’ long run would come to an end.

Two weeks after Dana’s death, I feel less confident. Worse, with Minister Griffith’s alarmist actions, I wonder if we might be entering a new phase of the war, this time with camouflage-coloured APCs rumbling through our streets, with heavy, indiscriminate fire pouring from real weapons of war.

Little wonder there is disquiet among the populace, and there are rumours of war. As a presumably competent Sandhurst-trained officer, Captain Griffith must take the tactical high ground from where he can strike effectively and decisively against the enemy…end of story.

18 thoughts on “Rumours of War, Weapons of War”

  1. Great blog! There is too much talk and little or no action on crime. I agree with you that the weapons that they are buying won’t solve the problem. Additional firepower without information on the culprits equals failure. It is time for them to listen to sane advice from you and jump into action.

  2. It seems to me what is needed is not more firepower but more intelligence and skills in intelligence gathering. When the government pre-empts the staffing of the services not by getting the best and the brightest but getting ‘their own’ in the services, that is a recipe for going backwards not forward. It is the reason why nothing is working in Trinidad and Tobago. The PP government wants to micro manage the staffing of the public and private services, not with the best and brightest but first with those ‘who look like them’ and who they want. How foolish! The next prime minister will have a job on his hands getting back the country together and most likely finding new ways to refill the treasury.

    1. “The next Prime Minister will have a job on his hands….” Are you a clairvoyant/psychic/medium? Madam (KPB)Prime Minister is a tactician.One year before the next election is “much too soon to send her off into the sunset”

        1. Kian:I am ‘forever” grateful that the pseudonym “Swordfish” is an exemplary “pen name”…When you asserted that the next(PM) “his hands”….informs me that you are confident that the next (PM) is “male”….One year in politics (before the next election) can “produce” several “strange bedfellows”…I am neutral (mon ami)…Both sides of the coin must be observed.Madam (KPB)Prime Minister is a strategist.Hey! how do you know whether I am a female Chinese “trini” etc? (smile)

    2. Kian like you was asleep when the PNM was in power they never practised equality among the citizens, was only their people in the employ. They created companies to only employ their members with party cards. In the Post Offices, Schools, etc. the FAB controlled all these jobs. What wrong with the equality in the employment now ? Wake up man.

  3. The security climate has changed Mr.Shah from the 1975 days. Today with all kinds of globalization and living next to Venezuela where drug cartels are involve in heavy transshipment requires the government to walk with a “big stick”.

    The P.M. appraised of the security situation understands that the PNM when they lose the next election will take to the streets and in a fit of rage attempt to “burn down” the nation. That type of behavior must be brought under quick control. One of these vehicles can take charge of an entire block. There is no need for a battalion of soldiers.

    The current administration cannot appear to be weak when facing such adversity. Trinidad is now the home of a few Islamic terrorist training and jihadist bases with “madrassas” similar to Pakistan emerging all over the place. The Pakistani model of government, army and madrassa pupils has seen a nation controlled by Islamic terrorism. Recently Venezuelan authorities arrested a few imams from Trinidad in their possession were evidence of training material that prompted this government to act quickly in securing greater firepower. Trinidad cannot ignore the third force that actively work to secure votes during election time. They were responsible for Manning winning his election. I rest my case.

    1. “The PM appraised of the security situation…………the PNM when they lose the next election……”burn down” the nation”…..One pen can raise a thousand swords.Please! for the love of God refrain from such prose.”Do not wear your heart upon your sleeve”…T&T a “tiny” island nation has more crime than Canada;a country with approximately seventeen times your population.Sometimes,I weep without any tears!

      1. An example for you swordfish is the Beetham all PNM supporters live there, this is the second time in a few months they set it on fire, the first time the cost was $9 million to stop that fire. Yes, as the PNC supporters used to say “mo fire” “slo fire” when they lose election. The PNMites are no different.

      2. Hey Kian,pay no attention to that flame throwing Mamboo ,our Morouga , by way of de Berbice River, drunkard.
        This is what he ,and others wish in their dreams , can happen, so that the tribe can once more , run to the UN,Australian, Canadian, Yankee, EU , or similar White fiefdoms, with pathetic refugee cries, as was done in the late eighties, under the directives of Papa Baz.
        There is one thing you must know Kian about your people , and this is it.
        Outside of the few ,low end criminal behaviors ,we are confronted with on a daily basis , there will never , ever be a racial/ ethnic warfare , in T&T in our lifetime,especially , over some stupid election result, and there are good reasons for this.
        Firstly it never did , since Trinis are-“great talkers , and less doers,” as my late, and extremely wise ,Tobago Granny , would often say.
        Secondly ,Indo Trinis , don’t have the guts for real, direct violence. That’s a South Asian Hindu , vs Islam characteristic, which was halted, once their Indentured , great grand parents, came off Massa ships, to the Trini paradise.
        As for Afro Trinis? Please , give me a break .It’s the same scenario.
        We know ,400 years ago , Yorubas, Ashantis ,Hausas, Xhosa, Zulus,Fulanis, Kikuyus, Ibos, were burning Massa plantations , and raping his women , at the drop of a hat, as they sort payback , and struggled for freedoms.
        Today , Afro Trini folks, are busy making love , not war, and ain’t care who nudge them to fight.
        For the record, 31% and rising , swing vote, Dougla, mix tribes,in a population of 1.3 million,- thank you very much , we don’t have any allegiance to any one , anymore, hmm?
        Finally, and most importantly, the masses at both end of the so called divide, knows fully well, who their real enemies are.
        Catch tail East Indians ,living in socially ignored swamps ,in Central,and similar enclaves ,knows that it ain’t that struggling African family with 4 kids, trying to make ends meet, as uneducated gangbangers ,take over their neighborhoods, be it in Never Dirty Morvant, or Mt Dor .
        Likewise scrunting Africans , are well aware , that it’s Basdeo ,Tabla Head Nizam ,Ramnath ,Sudama, and now Kamla , and the gang, that have neglected their struggling poor , to the same degree, as the PNM bozos , still fighting like crabs ,in a Toco, or Buccoo Point barrel ,for power.
        The enemy of the masses, are therefore ,self serving , power hungry elites, as played out between two political parties ,that are identical , in every manner outside of who is their respective leader.
        May good sense, continue to prevail.
        Translation-long live the Republic of T&T, si?

        1. Neal, I see Swordfish and Mamoo are wishing for the Guyana experiment. That would not be encouraged from our side and I will not idle talk to take away from the objectivity of telling our folks what is taking place in the lovely island once known as Trinidad. It can be made to work fairly for all again when people consider the alternative to what they are experiencing today. We have to return this country to a full functioning democracy again. When faced with reality, we always do what is right and in this case Aunty K will have to go.

        2. Give the racism a break, nah. I think a race war is possible, even likely because peopke like you talk like you have in this post. read about how innocuous the stements on the radio were in the years leading up to the Rwandan genocide.

          1. Anyone who believe that we should stay on the side and listen to Sat Maharaj spewing hate against black people and do nothing should look at themselves as an upholder. Anyone who look at the decay interns of our social discourse and can look at themselves and say they are happy, are in fact sleeping. Anyone who read and absorb the levels of crime and are not concerned are blind. Anyone who look at the politics of the day and are not concerned that we are going down to the pits of hell might as well be dead. The levels or corruption is soooooo high that people cannot trust themselves. We have been independent for most of fifty years and the state of affairs have NEVER been this bad.

  4. No Swordfish , for one does not need to be a clairvoyant, or any such escapist foolishness, as history would prove that Kian is correct. Never in the future history of this country, can your ULF/UNC, or as you all wish to call them now,PP party,will ever win two successive national election .
    The reasons are simple:- Each time the frustrated voters throw the trade union party a bone, they then move on an “fog up de place,”as played out under Fadah of your nation, Pappa Basdeo , and his loyal protégé, Auntie K.
    Repeat after me Swordfish.
    De Guyanarization of T&T, must not be allowed to take place.
    Trust me when I say , it ain’t pleasant.
    even your revered leader , is acting, more like an American lame duck President , as opposed to someone, with full confidence in the people.
    Coup plot?
    That was a good , funny one.
    Speaking about Trini militants , with evil intent.
    Tell me something Swordfish-since apparently ,you just like your pal T-Man , has connection to the a Carbal -just why it’s only one segment of the Muslim community , that is singled out ,for scrutiny, when they,-just like in 89 / 90, when Yasin abu Bakr , and his goons ,struck-all share the same anger ,and concerns of their entire religious community?
    Say no to ‘political overreach!’
    Stay vigilant T&T!

  5. Hindutava reigns supreme in the dreams of Mamoo. But dream on. You might get what you wish for, only with the roles reversed.

    They live and dream about the right circumstances that would allow them to sate their Gujarat blood and hate lust. Sow wind, sow wind, you will reap whirlwind, of that I am sure.

  6. Ha!Ha!Ha!….Kian:My parents “God rests their souls” will also have a good laugh….UNC,ILP,PP etc are all unfamiliar political parties.DLP and PNM are the two political parties with which I can relate.

    My interests with T&T politics were rekindled in the spring of 2010;when a “crawl” at the bottom of my TV screen read:T&T elected its first woman Prime Minister.

    Immediately,the mute button (tv) was utilized;and I spent almost six hours on my computer to relish;and absorb the historic event.Her ethnicity was and still is irrelevant.Since 1968 I have resided in Canada;but I have always remained a “trini”

    My observation of her politics has enabled me to classify her as a “tactician”…After a period of forty-six years abroad which includes extensive travels across North America;it’s impossible to “view” anyone as “Indo,Afro,Caucisian,mixed race” etc…….

    Accept people on their merit….Thanks Mr.Webmaster…never reveal my identity…God bless!

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