Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 12th 2013 Contents A7
Thursday, September 12, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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By the middle of next year, T&T is
expected to have at least two of the
four drones the government has
planned to acquire, National Security
Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday.
But he said it was still too early to
determine the cost, as the tendering
process for the unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs), more commonly known as
drones, has just started.
"I don t want to deal with dollars and
cents as yet," he said.
"At the end of the day there is a ten-
dering process pertaining to the acqui-
sition of the drones. The tenders have
not started as yet, but I assure that the
public will be kept well informed."
Griffith described the drone as an
aerial surveillance mechanism which is
"It is to be used primarily for access
for intelligence-gathering and to assist
harbourmasters in sting operations," he
"It is also used to monitor individuals
or groups used in the trade-off of illegal
weapons and drug...they are going to
be very powerful pieces of equipment."
Expressing confidence that the drones
would turn "night into day," the National
Security Minister said the drones were
one of the many "new" crime-fighting
initiatives he expected to implement.
"We are looking at purchasing four
drones in all, but definitely it would be
two in the first instance," he added.
Griffith said the drones would be used
throughout the country, with special
emphasis on the coastal areas, as
weapons and narcotics usually entered
via the many unmanned ports of entry.
There has been much controversy
surrounding the use of drones.
US President Barack Obama defended
the use of drones against terrorist targets,
saying they were "effective, legal, life-
saving and a necessary tool in an evolving
US counterterrorism policy."
Obama also confirmed that drone
strikes had killed Americans abroad.
However, a growing number of leg-
islators in the US Congress are seeking
to limit the deadly drone strikes, which
have targeted a wider range of threats
than initially anticipated.
Griffith made it clear that T&T s
drones would not be equipped with
rocket launchers and other weaponry,
saying they would be used specifically
for the purpose of intelligence gather-
ing.On the difference between the drones
and the blimp, he said since the drones
were much smaller in size they were
harder to spot.
"The blimp is very overt, so it would
have been very difficult for the blimp
to be successful in covert intelligence
surveillance, because it was easily
viewed," Griffith said.
"The drone is very small and it can
actually stay in one location and lock
into that one location to gather intel-
What is a drone?
It's a remote-controlled pilotless
Drones are typically used in military
and special operation applications.
However, recently some countries
have implemented their use for
surveillance as part of a policing and
firefighting combat initiative, and it is
expected they will play a similar role in
the fight against crime in this country.
Drones go into action next year
A "maritime security lock-
down" of T&T is one of the new
initiatives National Security Min-
ister Gary Griffith intends to
implement to combat crime.
Speaking after a meeting with
the top brass of the Coast Guard
yesterday, Griffith said the funds
which would have been utilised for
the acquisition of three offshore
patrol vessels (OPVs) would be used
to purchase new equipment.
"I could use half of those funds
to purchase a launch patrol vessel
that can still lock down our shores
of our exclusive economic zone but
more importantly it affords me the
opportunity now to utilise these
funds which at the end of next year
I intend to lock down the shore
with the acquisition of interceptors,"
"Those will be faster than any
vessel in the country. Even the boats
entering the great race could hardly
keep up with it."
In November 2012, an arbitration
between UK-based BAE Systems
and T&T over the cancellation of
an order for three (OPVs was settled
in this country s favour for $1.382
Asked where the Government
was sourcing the vessels from, the
National Security Minister said he
was not sure as the tendering
process had just begun.
Saying there were "specifics" he
wanted the vessels to be equipped
with, Griffith added: "We need to
ensure that no drugrunner or gun-
runner could outrun those vessels."
He said in the first instance the
Government intended to purchase
between four and six vessels to
implement 24-hour patrols.
"At all times we want to ensure
the island is locked down," he said.
"Whereas before, the radar might
have picked up a vessel which
might have entered our shores ille-
gally and by the time they actually
get to the location they, (drug and
gun dealers) would have dropped
off and head back out.
"The interceptors now would be
working in tandem with the radar
and the helicopters so at any time
there is an alert about any illegal
entry of any vessel we can then
utilise the helicopters and the inter-
ceptors to track and lock those ves-
In November 2012, then national
security minister Jack Warner said
the Government had intended to
purchase six naval vessels from the
Colombian government because
that country had been most suc-
cessful in fighting crime.
Asked whether he would be ful-
filling this plan, Griffith said he
intended to purchase vessels that
would suit the needs of the coun-
try.He said: Therein lies the prob-
lem. I am not going to recommend
what I feel is effective. I am going
to go with the recommendation of
those who are really on the ground.
"I am going to liaise a lot with
the Coast Guard and look at what
their concerns are," he said.
Griffith plans for
New Security Minister tackles crime...
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Administration Gillian Mac Intyre, second from left,
presents gifts to students of the Professional Development Programme 2013, from left, Nirala Boodoo,
Javed Razack and Chrisen Maharaj during a ceremony at the Government Training Centre, Chaguaramas,
yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
STUDENTS GET GIFTS
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