Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday “no one knows what’s next” for Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Tellis Bethel after he completes his mandatory three-month leave.
The decision to remove Bethel at this time has raised eyebrows among some observers given that the RBDF is instrumental in Hurricane Dorian relief efforts on Grand Bahama and Abaco, where security concerns on the ground have persisted.
The commodore is on leave from October 15, 2019 to January 15, 2020.
Dames would not say yesterday if Bethel was on pre-retirement leave.
When asked, he replied, “He’s currently on leave.”
Asked what will happen to the commodore in three months, Dames told The Nassau Guardian, “I can’t tell you what will happen come January.”
When pressed, the minister said, “ … No one knows what’s next after that. I mean, the thing is: what is the central point?
“Because we’re making a lot of assumptions and I can’t deal with assumptions. I have to deal with reality, the facts, what’s before me.”
The Guardian understands that Bethel has accumulated vacation of just under a year.
Following criticism from the opposition regarding the timing of Bethel’s leave, Dames said, “The good thing is these agencies – like the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and Royal Bahamas Defence Force – are built in such a way where no matter what happens, they continue to function. That’s why they’re military agencies and they run by a particular standard.”
Dames said he did not understand “what the real issue is” behind the concerns regarding the commodore’s leave.
“I’ve had the opportunity to speak to the commodore today and he’s certainly not overly concerned about anything,” Dames said.
“He’s currently on leave. We have to get to a place in this country where things like this [do] not become a big issue, you know?
“This is how organizations run and the thing is the organizations aren’t built on any one individual, and they ought not be built on any one individual …
“But after having said that, the commodore and I continue to be in discussions and, you know, we have a really good relationship and we will continue to work in that stead. He is still the commodore, right?”
An internal memorandum – dated October 15, 2019 and signed by Captain Adrian B. Chriswell – revealed that Captain Raymond King will serve as acting commander of the RBDF until January 2020.
“Further, in his absence, Deputy Commander, Defence Force Captain Raymond King, will act as commander defense force,” the memo noted.
On October 6, the Cabinet Office announced King’s appointment as deputy commander.
“As deputy commander, Dr. King will assist Commander Tellis Bethel in the discharge of his duties,” the Cabinet Office stated.
“The deputy commander will be responsible for the oversight of RBDF operations on Abaco and Grand Bahama following the passage of Hurricane Dorian.”
In 2018, King was seconded to the Port Department as port controller, where he served up to his appointment as deputy commander. Lieutenant Commander Berne Wright is the new port controller.