28 June, 2009

Honduras coup; Venezuela military on alert

From top: Chavez, Bain, Zelaya, Venezuelan forces.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in military coup, and exiled to Costa Rica, this morning. Roberto Micheletti Bain, has replaced Zelaya. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has put the military on alert, vowing to use military force, if necessary, to replace Zelaya.

Honduras has a population of 7.5m, and maintains an active military force of 8,300 with 60,000 reserves. In 2002 there were 5,500 in the army, 1,800 in the air force, and 1,000 in the navy, including 400 marines. Paramilitary public security forces numbered 6,000 personnel. The US maintains a small military presence in Honduras.

Venezuela has a population of 26.5m and has 600,000 soldiers in four service branches--the Army, Navy (including the Marine Corps), Air Force, and the Armed Forces of Cooperation (FAC), also called National Guardia Nationale.

Should Honduras and Venezuela go to war, then Trinidad and Tobago-eight miles off Venezela’s coastline-will definitely feel the consequences. Perhaps our National Security Council met today and discussed our national defense plans with this latest scenario in mind. Could the NSC spokesperson please address the nation on this issue?

Got preps?

23 June, 2009

Scenario planning: What if T&T has another emergency like 1990?

What if T&T has another major emergency? Would you be prepared? Would you feel comfortable that the protective services can, or will? Any major emergency event can happen: T&T experiences a severe hurricane, great earthquake, an invasion from a neighbouring country, terrorists disrupting energy supplies or even another coup. Should the emergency occur over an extended period, can you feed, protect and shelter you family?

Within the first three or four days, the police will go around to the homes of those listed in the firearms register. They will confiscate all firearms and there isn’t a thing you can do about it (read sec 22[1] of the Firearms Act). No pleading, no reasoning, no calls to your superstar constitutional attorney can prevent it. You will be stripped of your legal means of protecting yourself and loved ones, right at the very moment that you need to the most.

The criminals and their families must eat and drink, so the looting begins. After HiLo, TruValu and the other major groceries have been stripped bare, then the smaller groceries and mini marts will also be attacked. Next, unless order is restored, the little neighbourhood shops and parlours will experience the same treatment. Finally, home invasions will be so rampant, that the protective services-being stretched so thin-may not respond.

Armed gangs will terrorise entire communities, picking off the weak, unprepared and unarmed at will. Home invasions, murders, rapes, kidnappings, auto theft, praedial larceny and illegal forcible evictions will be the order of the day.

We are told that one prepares for war in the time of peace. We missed that boat, the war is already on.

Scenario planning is a strategic planning method used by military intelligence and other organisations for flexible long-term plans. Neighbourhood watch groups, families, businesses and NGOs can adapt the methods to their particular environment. It is one way to build community resilience.

Get together with other stakeholders and develop your emergency plan now. Remember, a plan is not a plan, unless it is written down and can be shown to someone else. Otherwise it is still only an idea.

In ‘the fog of war’, ideas may be easily forgotten, and people revert to training and conditioning. Without plans, bad decisions are made, with sometimes fatal repercussions. Develop your plans today. Test them. Do an emergency drill. See what works, what doesn’t. Make your changes and test again. Refine your plan until it is good enough for your survival, and ensure all stakeholders internalize it, or at least have a copy.

Trust in God. But have recourse to lethal force.

Have a plan to survive. Prep your beans, bullets, band-aids and training.

19 June, 2009

500 CCTV cameras in Port of Spain, more preps

500 CCTV cameras in Port of Spain. That’s very reassuring. At least to the company that has the contract to service/maintain them. But what does it mean to the average citizen? The cost of these cameras, and the attendant service contract is not known to the taxpayer, yet we foot the bill. Where is the footage stored? Who has access to these archives? How many arrests and convictions have been made due to the evidence from these cameras?


Got two mini first aid kits, and they’ve been stashed in the Bug Out Bags. They were tokens to members for attending the annual general meeting of a credit union. Only one per member, but someone was complaining about it being a “useless dust-collector”. I cheerfully offered my saucer of hors d’ouvres in exchange for their kit. “Two is one and one is none”. Redundancy and charity. This is a classic example of choices people make impacting their future. That person chose instant gratification coupled with delayed trauma. I chose the obverse.

Getting a little low on pellets, so a trip to the store is in order. Recently stocked up on D size batteries, more bottled water and telephone directories. Directories have multiple uses during emergencies. They can be be used in starting a fire, as a target, target backstop, outdoor toilet paper, and oh, yes, to find a listed telephone number. They’re also free.

Bought a thin layer of dense foam from a furniture factory. The factory slices off the top, due to the slightly irregular shape. It’s sold relatively cheap; about $30- $40. It’s large enough to throw on the floor for an unexpected six-foot-plus guest to sleep comfortably.

17 June, 2009

Seven confirmed swine flu cases in T&T

Seven. Confirmed. Swine flu cases.

The Guardian this morning:

“A female police officer assigned to the Chaguanas Police Station has contracted the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. And another officer, displaying virus symptoms, has been sent on leave, pending results. A news release from the Public Relations Department of the Police Service confirmed that a Chaguanas officer has contracted the virus.”

“…officers at the Couva Police Station said they were still awaiting protective masks and hand sanitisers.”

And the Express reports the County Medical Officer ordered the Chaguanas police station closed.

How much does a couple disposable protective masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer cost? Less than $20! Maybe even less than $15 if you knew where to shop. Are those police officers seriously willingly putting their health (and the health of their loved ones) at risk simply because ‘the government’ is tardy in supplying supplies? So if The Service is slow in supplying toilet paper…?

At least one officer accepted responsibility for her own welfare and survival:

“A female officer said she had bought her own safety equipment.”

When did we become so dependent on government to do every little thing for us?
Should the gov also come wipe our noses when its running? Where does it end? It seems like every day we are becoming more and more like certain sectors of the US inner city demographics—totally dependent on a ‘nanny state’ for all our needs. Where’s the personal responsibility, the collective responsibility, the initiative, the problem-solving skills? How can a police officer who refuses to protect himself, truthfully act on the police service motto, “to protect and serve with pride”?

15 June, 2009

Farewell Sifu Thomas

Sifu Michael Thomas
(17 Dec 1958 – 10 Jun 2009) succumbed to an inherited illness last week Wednesday, and was buried on Friday. Sifu Thomas taught martial arts and self defence to hundreds of young people. More importantly, he taught discipline and brotherly love. He protected the weak and stood up to bullies all his life.

Many of his earlier students brought their own children to benefit from his patient instruction. A founding member of the WUSHU Association of Trinidad and Tobago, he also served on its executive. His father is a former weightlifter and wrestler, one of his brothers, is the 80s wrestling star, “Thunderbolt Williams”.

Some maxims that Sifu repeated to his students. Often:

“A man of the martial arts thinks at all times. He possesses speed, power, technique, gracefulness and discipline.”
“The best defense is not being there.”
“The prepared shall inherit the future.”
“The more you sweat in here, the less you bleed out there.”

Rest in peace, Sifu. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge. May the Creator watch over thee, while we are absent, one from another.

12 June, 2009

Situational Awareness, Self preservation

Stacked gun safe

Citizens of this beautiful country have now become attuned to the facts of life called robberies and kidnappings. One need not be rich to become a victim. For example, the Sookoo family, although simple crop farmers, living in a wooden house, were attacked Tuesday night while returning home from church service at their Kingdom Hall in Cumana (they are Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Three gunmen, also armed with cutlasses (machetes) tortured the parents and their nine-year-old son, demanding money and a bank ATM card. After receiving the money, they still kidnapped the 30-year-old woman, threatening to kill her.

Situational Awareness
is defined as “the perception of environmental elements within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future.”
In other words, “what you need to know not to be surprised.”

Staying constantly and consistently aware of your surroundings, and the changes that occur within it, is vital to survival. Self defense experts always remind us that entering and exiting (homes, vehicles, buildings) are the most likely locations for attacks. For this reason, one should be extra vigilant at these potentially vulnerable points.

We know from experience that we cannot depend on the police service to protect us. Their resources are usually inadequate (“…no vehicles at this time ma’am…”, “…vehicles out on enquiries…”). Most times the officers react too slowly to stop a crime-in-progress.
Therefore the duty to protect ourselves, and loved ones, falls to us.

The USA has Castle Doctrine laws that permits a citizen to use force-even lethal force-to protect human life and property from an intruder. Isn’t it time those sworn to uphold (and create) our laws strike from our legal books, those unjust laws that were created by our former colonial masters, that makes us automatic suspects or criminals when we defend ourselves? Doesn’t the realities of our present crime situation dictate that we revise our laws?

The police cannot, or will not protect us.

Get prepared now, or risk death.

05 June, 2009

Dutch Navy ship HNLMS Van Amstel in Trinidad

Below: HNLMS Van Amstel.
Top: The five hiking Dutch weapons engineers.

While driving through a rough neighbourhood today, observed five obviously foreign military men marching on the street. They appeared disciplined and their movement was in wedge formation (one-two-two).
After engaging them, I discovered they were from the Royal Netherlands Navy, the HNLMS Van Amstel, a Karel Doorman class Frigate that was in Operation Enduring Freedom, and also assisted in Hurricane Karina’s aftermath.

They were weapons engineers, and being adventurous types, simply kitted up for a tropical hike-water bladders and all-and disembarked, heading East. I advised them about the area, and they thanked me, turned around and returned to the direction of the ship, hopefully in another, safer, more picturesque direction.

Incidentally, the ship’s weapons are very impressive. See some of the weapons systems here.

AirgunsTT welcomes the Captain, officers and crew of the HNLMS Van Amstel to Trinidad and Tobago, and wishes them a safe journey when they depart on Monday.

03 June, 2009

Criminals force us to adapt, improvise

A delivery truck with a message to criminals.

Some business owners have developed creative strategies to deal with crime. The above photo shows a local brewery truck with a sign that reads, “NO CASH ONBOARD”. To ensure the illiterate or semi-literate robber understands the message, a graphic depicting a dollar sign, with an angled line running through is also shown.

Those who do not modify their behaviour in a changing environment risk becoming extinct. This 73-yr old truck driver was stabbed to death by bandits near Maloney.

Meanwhile, 19 deportees from the US arrived on a chartered flight at Piarco, last Monday। Another 26 are expected to arrive next week. We export oil, natural gas and university graduates to the US; we import food, automobiles and convicted criminals (about 500 per annum) with sophisticated skills. Hmmmm. How does one measure the trade (im)balance? Looks like some weird, twisted Mariel boatlift.

Now that Jamaica, Bermuda and the Bahamas confirm their first cases of H1N1 Swine Flu, how safe is our country? Prepare, adapt, modify or risk becoming extinct. Got Sambucol?
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