(Trinidad Guardian) Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Rodney Smart said yesterday’s attempt by two discharged Special Forces soldiers to allegedly burn a house in Princes Town was part of yet another attempt by the criminal element to destabilise the country.
The two—Cpl Steve Douglas and Lance Cpl Devon Edwards—were arrested by police hours later at Munroe Road, Charlieville, Chaguanas.
Smart was speaking during a special news conference hosted with acting Commissioner of Police Harold Phillip at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. He said it was called to clarify information on the incident, adding that the weekly meeting of the National Security Council was also held yesterday.
Smart said the incident was “an attempt by those criminal elements who would want to place our society in a destabilising condition.” He said the Defence Force would assist the T&T Police Service with its investigations.
Smart said Douglas and Edwards “were discharged because they were not displaying the behaviour we felt that junior leaders should display.” He said they were soldiers for 18 and 14 years respectively and were both discharged in 2014.
“We felt that given the level of leadership that we had entrusted in them, they were not demonstrating the (required) qualities. As a consequence they were discharged,” Smart said. He expressed “severe disappointment” about yesterday’s incident, noting they were “once trusted” and expressing concern that the two “could allow themselves to be used in such a way by the criminal element.”
In response to questions, he said Douglas “committed certain disciplinary misdemeanors that should not be committed at the level he was at,” while Edwards “had been involved in an altercation with another member of the Defence Force (and) he was discharged.”
Smart said the Defence Force “continuously looks at its people in terms of their professionalism. If at any time we ascertain there are people who should not be in our ranks we discharge them, so it is a continuous process.”