Royal Bahamas Defence Force
In 1964 The Bahamas were granted internal self-government, followed by independence in 1973. Post-independence politics in The Bahamas have been dominated by (later Sir) Lynden Pindling, who had first been elected to the premiership as head of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in 1967. The PLP, with Pindling as its head, was returned to office at each of five subsequent elections, despite increasingly numerous and detailed allegations of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking against Pindling and some of his associates. Pressure from the USA (which has leased two military bases on the islands since the 1950s) forced the Government to introduce more stringent measures against drug trafficking, including changes to the islands' banking secrecy laws.
The islands' poor economic performance during the early 1990s led to the PLP's rejection at the August 1992 polls. The new premier was the leader of the long-time opposition Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert Ingraham. Ingraham was re-elected in 1997, but at the most recent poll in May 2002, the PLP, under the leadership of Perry Christie, resumed control of the Government with an overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly. In terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas is the third richest country in the Americas (following the United States and Canada).
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Royal Bahamas Defence Force
The Bahamas Defence Act of 1979 established the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), seven years after independence. The headquarters of the RBDF is situated on the south western tip of the island of New Providence, having located there in November 1992. The Bahamas Defence Company and a Volunteer Force had seen military duty during World War Two, but both were demobilized after the war. Consequently, the RBDF had no immediate military antecedent. This was in contrast to islands such as Jamaica and Barbados that had existing volunteer forces that became an integral part of their defence forces at independence. Increased drug traffic through Bahamian waters and a steady influx of illegal Haitian immigrants had underlined the need for a defence force because of the enormous strain on the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The RBDF, which is basically a naval force, consists of six major sub-sections: Headquarters, Administration, Operations, Engineering, Supply and Commando Squadron. The Operations Department contains the mobile arms of the RBDF and comprises several sub-units: the Squadron (maritime fleet), the Air Wing and the Harbour Patrol Unit. The Air Wing was formed on November 26, 1981, two years after the creation of the defence force. Initially three Aero Commanders were operated from Bahamasair, but these were sold in 1990. In 1992, a Cessna 402 and a Cessna 421 aircraft were incorporated soon after. By late 2005, delivery of a Beech 350 took place. In May 20009, a Cessna 208 with floats and a Vulcanair P68 were delivered and significantly improved the RBDF's capabilities. The latter three aicraft make up the current fleet of the RBDF.
Royal Bahamas Police Force
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) provides internal security on The Bahamas and was formed upon independence of the islands. Expenditures for the Police Force amounted to more than 7 percent of total government expenditures. Although considered limited in size, regarding the huge territory of The Bahamas, the RBPF operates its own Air Support Unit. Two Colemill Panthers (Piper PA-31 upgrades) were impounded on narcotics smuggling flights and taken into service. Homebased at the capital's international airport, these aircraft regularly deploy to the other islands of the archipelago to fulfill their monitoring role.