Within the parameters of planning for the base’s establishment, there are mandatory requirements to be satisfied to get acquire requisite funding. Firstly, the establishment of the Air Base in Tobago must be aligned to the strategic documents, such as Government’s National Development Strategy (Vision 2030) and the Defence Force Strategy Plan. Vision 2030 speaks of five (5) Thematic areas. Conversely, the Air Guard’s initiative can be aligned to Theme II – Good Governance and Service Excellence. Moreover, the project must adhere to Call Circular 2018 which implies that projects must be aligned to the Service Delivery Excellence Programme (SDEP) initiative in order to facilitate the creation of the high performing, citizen-centric civil Service. Moreover, the establishment of the new base requires Capability Based Planning which is: ‘a systematic approach to force development that aims to advise on the most appropriate force options to meet government priorities. The force options developed should meet strategic objectives, minimize cost and risk and comply with other constraints’.Likewise, cabinet approval must be obtained for the establishment of the air base as well the requisite funding to make it operational. Within the approval the national strategy alignment must be defined to show the benefits of the new base. Further, the approval must provide detail detailed infrastructural and associated costs for the establishment of this new airbase and for funding to be made available under the appropriate forms of expenditure.
Discussion and Literature Review
The location of this new air base is a major element to success. Discussions can be held with the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago for the allocation of space at the ANR Robinson Airport. Further, attempts can be made for land allotment based on the Defence Act 14:01 Section 189 that states the President may Order requisition the use of any area of land in which in the opinion of the Chief of Defence Staff is necessary and suitable for the purpose of the training, exercise or manoeuvres of the Force. The area will be deemed critical for the establishment of the airbase to allow the Fixed and Rotary Wing to extend their capacity and provide greater support to the Tobago House of Assembly. Such maneouvres would be deemed critical and beneficial towards tourism attractiveness and foreign investment. Further, given the escalating crime situation in Trinidad, shared resources are considered to ensure more coverage of the territorial waters and the assets based out at sea. The allocation of land near to the airport can allow the Air Guard to access the already established airport operation instead of obtaining a location which require the construction of a runway and subsequent approval by the relevant authorities.
Precise consideration should be made for the requisite manpower to adequately sustain the base and its operations. Meetings between the Fixed and Rotary Wing Unit, as well as Operations and Logistics Departments are required to determine the human resource complement. A manpower audit should be derived to determine vacancies in the Air Guard and the requirement for base establishment. The reconciliation of these two (2) metrics, will determine the numbers needed for Tobago Base and from where they can be sourced. The shortfall of personnel can be sought through the same cabinet approval to bring the entire Air Guard up to the requisite strength.
Given that this is a new initiative, this project will fall under the Public Sector Investor Programme (PSIP). Cabinet approval of the project must be articulated in the Draft Estimates for the PSIP. Its introduction into the Draft Estimates should indicate that cabinet approval was granted, the cost for the establishment of base which comprises of infrastructural costs for a new hangar and associated departments in the first instance. This must be supported with a Bill of Quantities by the Ministry of Works and Transport to detail infrastructure costs. Further the Engineering Department of the Airports Authority can be approached for aviation requirements given that approval was granted for the allocation of land. Moreover, the engagement of the Civil Aviation Authority will be necessary with regards to the Rotary operation in Tobago, for the approval of an Air Operator’s Certificate/ Approved Maintenance Organization (AOC/AMO). Additionally, funding under the Recurrent Expenditure (RE) has be accounted for in the particular Draft Estimates to include cost factors associated with recruitment of personnel, purchase of Minor Equipment such as items required for a small galley, maintenance services at the new base and the AOC/AMO certification, increase in fuel to provide support for the new establishment and consumable stores.Artful planning for the movement of equipment, material and personnel is required. Consideration would be made to determine cost effectiveness in the purchase of material within Trinidad or Tobago. Factors that determine such is the availability of the cargo boat to transport such items. This approach can be adopted should the Air Guard seek in-house labour through the Defence Force Reserves. This strategy was implemented for the construction of the Survival Equipment Shop at UCAS. However, to minimize the project delay, the hiring of a construction firm via the tender process will ensure that such challenges are overcome through availability of personnel and the transference of logistical effort to the contractor. A firm such as Harripersad and Sons can be utilized since they have a great track record of working within the aerodrome and are familiar with the operations of the Air Guard. Upon the completion of construction and all infrastructural installation, the movement of personnel now assigned to the base should be addressed. In an attempt to mitigate the air transportation of support personnel for the base, the assignment of Tobagonian airmen should be a first consideration. This takes care of both air travel and accessibility to the home in the shortest possible time, if not handled operations can be adversely affected. Consequently, should the competent persons required for the jobs be Trinidadians, it is imperative that the accommodation for the base is up and running for provision of on and off duty situations. Further the new base will require the availability of vehicles. The fleet status along with serviceability will communicate what is available for use. Available and rationale vehicles required already existing in the fleet, will be transferred and transported via the cargo vessel. Nonetheless, the PSIP and RE will shoulder the finances for expansion or replacement of items where required.
The operations of the Fixed and Rotary occur independently at the UCAS. However, given the austerity measures, it is feasible that equipment is shared where possible. The fueling of aircraft by the NP at the airport will eliminate the need for the purchase of a new bowser in the immediate future, since one (1) is currently used between the two (2) units at the UCAS. The sharing of military assets between the UCAS and Tobago Base will further be extended to ground equipment and other items. An audit must be conducted for the availability of items required for each of the Units and what can be utilised for the new base. Justification should be clearly articulated then to determine what items can be shared and/or purchased. The Air Guard currently has one (1) Harris Radio system that was loaned by the Regiment. Submissions were made in the Estimates in three (3) prior submissions for the mandatory procurement. Therefore, Cabinet approval must be sought and presentation made in the Estimates for the initial purchase of Harris radios for the Operations Department at Tobago. Additionally, the Rotary Wing requires a hoist for maintenance which is currently attached to the structure. Therefore, procurement of one to meet the needs of base will be required. The same principle applies for the utilization of the ground equipment and power generator which are required for effectiveness and operational sustainability. Asset serviceability and availability should be conducted and any shortfall can be procured under the Minor Equipment Vote of the RE.
In conclusion, logistics requirements for the establishment of this new base requires informed decision making. It is advised that this project be approached on a Phase basis thereby allowing the funding, requisite approvals and recruitment of personnel to take place. History has shown that having a project championed at the ministerial level ensures effective engagement and mission success. Adequate usage of the Capability based planning and engagement of major stakeholders within and external to the Air Guard ensure that all facets and risks have been realized and the appropriate mitigation factors acquire consensus and are realistic in the achievement of SMART goals.