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thedrifter
02-18-07, 10:40 AM
Eric Brown Keeping the marines in line

By NOrman Rolle

norman@nasguard.com

Discipline is a watchword in the military. Generally, strict adherence to rules, codes and the like are of paramount importance. But as in all human endeavors, from time to time, there would be infractions which should be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

In the Royal Bahamas Defence Force the person in charge of discipline and the welfare of the marines is known as the Master at Arms. Since December last year that person has been Chief Petty Officer Eric Brown, who in his 29 years in the force has served in just about every department.

He defined for Lifestyles recently his style of dealing with discipline: "In disciplining someone you have to look at the overall situation. A person up for discipline who hardly gets into trouble...you have to be a little lenient with him. On the other hand, a person who is a known trouble-maker you would discipline that person in a severe manner. In basic training you learn the rules and regulations that govern the military.

"We try to get them to understand that civilian life is much different from the military. If you break the rules ...there are consequences. We try to instill this into their minds very early."

The most common infractions marines are brought to him for are being away from the job or the general workplace without authorization and lateness. The penalties, he said range from extra hours of work to a "charge" under the Defence Force Acts and Regulations to being detained for a period of up to two months.

"In case of a marine going missing, we would send people out to look for him...and along with other punishment, the marine gets a pay cut for the unauthorized time off," he disclosed.

He joined the Defence Force 1978 and underwent basic training at the police college. His first duties were on a the HMBS Abaco where he did an eight year stint. "I had the opportunity to visit most of the Family Islands and had the experience of arresting poachers and drug traffickers. We often would stake out on cays."

From HMBS Abaco he was transferred to the Training Department a fire-fighter instructor. He specialized in fire-fighting.. He moved to the commando squadron, "the most feared department." The training is pretty rigid and there's no skimping on discipline, he said.

After three months in the squadron he was sent to England on a three months "green beret" training which he described as "hard and taxing. Brown is one of a handful of green beret officers at RBDF. In 1990 he returned to the Commando squadron where he spent 14 years. He graduated from A F Adderley High School in 1976. One of the highlights of his career was his six months deployment in Haiti in 1995. There he was Company Sergeant-Major who liaised with soldiers from other parts of the Caribbean. He spoke a little Creole, but "some guys picked it up pretty quickly," he said.

He would spend a short stint in the Stores Department, before moving over to the new Port Security Department where he was instrumental in assisting in the "Rules and regulations" that governs the port security.

He spent six months at the Harbor Unit before being transferred to Master of Arms last December, his current position. The post serves as a buffer between the lower deck and the upper deck; the marines and the officers.

A born-again Christian, he attends Bethany Assembly. "Being a Christian helps me to be balanced and fair...I believe if I'm firm and fair, I would not be the most hated man on the base." He is married and he and his wife, Cheryl, have six daughters and a son.

Ellie