Brigadier General Rodney Smart is due to official retire as Chief of Defence Staff later this month as he reaches the retirement age of 55.
But Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon, a former CDS, does not want Smart to go home just yet. So TTWhistleblower has been reliably informed that a Cabinet note has been drafted and signed and will be taken before Cabinet on Thursday seeking a one-year extension for Smart to continue as CDS.
The precedent was set under the last PP Government as an extension was sought for then CDS Major General Ken Maharaj for a one-year extension. As Maharaj was about to go home, he got the one-year extension. But last December after serving 11 months of that extension, he decided to retire.
When everyone thought that the next in line, Brigadier General Anthony Phillip-Spencer would get the job, he was bypassed and Smart given the nod. With egg on the faces of the Government, they ran quickly and appointed Phillip-Spencer as this country’s Ambassador to the United States.
Now that Smart is about to go home, up comes a recommendation for an extension for one year. That leaves the CDS’s in waiting more time to wait. Some of those next in line are Colonel Archie Phillips, of the Regiment, and Captain Hayden Pritchard, of the Coast Guard.
Extensions have not gone down too well with the rank and file of the Defence Force and Police Service. When Commissioner of Police Kenny Mohammed got an extension, the Police Association complained. But there is no association in the Defence Force so the men and women complain silently.
As one officer put it, “this will not be good for the morale of the men and women in the Defence Force.”
On May 10, 2010, the then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Brigadier General Edmund E. Dillon promoted Col Smart and presented him with his letter of appointment at a ceremony held at the Defence Force Headquarters, Chaguaramas on 10 May 2010.
Col Smart is currently the Deputy Director at the Defence Transformation and Integration Secretariat at the Ministry of National Security. He is a career military officer with almost 30 years experience in command and staff appointments. During this period, he has served as Assistant Chief Staff Officer, Force Development; Regimental Transformation Officer; Commanding Officer of the 2nd Infantry Battalion and Commander of the Interagency Task Force. Regionally, Col Smart was the 2nd Commander of the Task Force serving in Grenada in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. In 1995-1996, the colonel served with the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) and prior to that, he served in Jamaica following the passage of Hurricane Gilbert.
In his address, Brigadier Dillon complimented Col Smart on his many accomplishments. The past pupil of Queen’s Royal College is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre in the UK; the US Army Infantry Officers Advanced Course; the Canadian Land Forces Command and General Staff College; and the US Army Command and General Staff College, where he attained a Masters Degree in Military Arts and Science. Col Smart is also the holder of a BSc in Management from UWI where he is currently pursuing the MSc in Strategic Leadership and Management.
Additionally, he has undertaken studies in Defence Transformation at the Naval Postgraduate School in California and Defence Management at the College of Management and Technology in the UK. Recently, Col Smart returned from the Centre for Hemispheric Defence Studies in Washington DC, where he completed a course in Caribbean Defence and Security Studies.
Prior to promoting Col Smart, the CDS also commended the officer for leading the Defence Force Team whom he had charged with the responsibility for developing leadership and management programmes with UWI. Brigadier General Dillon also challenged the colonel to use his incisive mind to assist in improving the analytical skills of junior members within the Force.