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Antigua and Barbuda: National Security
Country Study > Chapter 7 > National Security


Antiguan and Barbudan security forces consisted of the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force, which was a constabulary of 350 personnel, and the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, which had 115 members. Although both forces reported to the deputy prime minister, they were independent of each other. The Defence Force filled the role of the SSUs established in other OECS countries; it had only a ground element, as Antigua and Barbuda had no navy or air force. The coast guard was subordinate to the Police Force.

Elements of both the Police Force and the Defence Force participated in the United States-Caribbean military intervention in Grenada in 1983. Antiguan and Barbudan forces stayed in Grenada until the spring of 1985 as part of the regional peacekeeping effort. Members of Antigua and Barbuda's Defence Force returned to Grenada in late 1986 in response to a request from Grenadian prime minister Herbert Blaize. Blaize had feared the eruption of violence as the Maurice Bishop murder trial neared its end.

Antigua and Barbuda was an early supporter of the regional defense force concept. Prime Minister Bird regarded the RSS as a means of providing a counterinsurgency force in the event that revolutionary forces established themselves on Antigua and Barbuda. He felt that communist groups in the region saw the RSS as a threat and therefore were trying to discredit the system. Although some Caribbean heads of government remained opposed to the proposal, Bird continued to support the establishment of an independent, regional force and security system that could counter this perceived threat to the RSS system and, by extension, OECS member states. In support of United States military aid to the region, Antigua and Barbuda received coast guard boats from the United States in the early 1980s and agreed to engage in joint coast guard patrols with Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia. The Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and coast guard also participated in various joint training exercises with the United States and other countries in the region. At the same time, Antigua and Barbuda agreed to permit United States facilities on Antigua to be used to train RSS personnel.

A very useful overview of Antigua and Barbuda at the time of independence is provided by Antigua and Barbuda Independence, an official publication of the government of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Ron Sanders. Paget Henry's Peripheral Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Antigua covers many aspects of Antiguan society and economy from a Marxist perspective. The November-December 1981 issue of the Bulletin of Eastern Caribbean Affairs includes several interesting articles on the Constitution, agriculture, and society. Novelle H. Richards's The Struggle and the Conquest, Pt. II: The Locust Years provides a helpful glimpse at interparty dynamics and political history. A closer look at Barbuda can be obtained in Barbuda Reconnaissance by Richard Russell and William G. McIntire; although dated in some ways, it offers useful information, especially for those interested in local geology and oceanography. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of November 1987

Last Updated: November 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Antigua and Barbuda was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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