FORMER police commissioner and retired Defence Force captain Gary Griffith is rejecting claims by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel, that members of the Defence Force (TTDF) are not trained to go on patrols with police.
At a meeting of a parliamentary joint select committee (JSC) on March 15, Daniel said the biggest challenge facing the TTDF was having to patrol with police.
“When we go out and do patrols with police, we are doing something that generally, we haven’t trained for, and it puts my personnel in a challenging position, because their training is to do certain things and it is not law enforcement. It is not 'to protect and serve' (the motto of the police service.) That is the biggest challenge.”
In response, Griffith said Daniel's comment was “totally incorrect,” and described it as a cop-out.
“Being an officer in the TTDF for 17 years, I can verify that what he said is misleading and can give the impression that the defence force hierarchy does not want to adhere to one of their functions, which is aid to civil power and support the police for internal security.
"The Chief of Defence Staff cannot expect the nation to accept that 5,000 trained military personnel would only remain on standby until another attempted coup takes place to justify their existence.”
Griffith, a former national security minister and national security adviser, said the vast majority of the defence force wants to assist in the fight against crime, and patrolling with police is part of that.
He blamed the supposed belief that the TTDF is unwilling to assist police on “weak leadership.”
“Their (TTDF members) only obstacle is not having powers of arrest like police or precepted security guards, and this is dealt with by having them in joint patrols with police, who will take front if arrests are required.
"However, the regimental police are fully trained and qualified to have powers of arrest.
"So I hope this puts to bed the foolish theory that soldiers are only trained to kill. That theory, along with the CDS comments are rubbish,” Griffith said.
He added that as part of a UN peacekeeping force, he did exactly what the CDS said regiment officers are not trained to do.
“So to say they are not qualified, it means you're trying to say there's a role and function in the defence force that they're supposed to do, but they're not trained to do it. Every single military officer in the army is trained and qualified to understand that type of training.”
Griffith said if what Daniel said was true, why then is the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) still operational after 22 years, if defence force personnel are not trained to work with the police on patrols?
Since 2001, Griffith continued, when the IATF was first introduced, there have been successes in “pegging back criminals” via joint police and army patrols.
Daniel also told the JSC that the TTDF trains police in operational planning and executing operations effectively, which he said is something the police may not be experts at.