Army needs to be more adaptive to deal with emerging hemispheric crimes -President- at annual GDF officers’ conference
Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Ramotar, addressing the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Annual Officers’ Conference
Georgetown, GINA, February 27, 2014
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Donald Ramotar has issued a call for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to become more adaptive and dynamic, towards addressing the changing and evolving local, regional and hemispheric realities that can threaten the nation’s security.
This call was made as the President addressed officers at the opening of the annual two-day officers’ conference this morning at Base Camp Ayanganna. Also present were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips.
President Ramotar stressed the need for the military to be prepared for other threats that today exist because of the international environment; threats such as natural disasters and outbreaks. “National defence and security can no longer be confined to only preserving our country’s territorial integrity and responding to actions that infringe the sovereignty. These of course are essential roles, but other threats remain. There are threats that can potentially destroy the quality of life of large numbers of people that can be caused by natural disasters, by climate change, they can also damage a lot of our institutions, and we need to have our army involved in the protection of these areas as well,” the President said.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds among senior and junior staff of the Guyana Defence Force and senior officials of the Guyana Police Force including Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell at the 2014 GDF Annual Officers’ Conference
He said that these new threats qualify for national security, and as a consequence, the local military therefore needs to broaden its understanding of national security to include combating these threats.
Traditionally the role of the GDF has primarily been directed at the threats to the country’s territorial integrity and the exercise of sovereignty. The army’s mandate also includes the role of search and rescue operations, and lending support to the police in the fight against crime, and in the restoration of public order.
The officers’ conference is facilitated to review strategies, systems and administration, education, welfare and human resource management. This year the engagement is being held under the theme “Towards Greater Operational Readiness for National Defence and Security.”
President Ramotar said that the theme captures the immediate task of the GDF. “Analyses of the threat facing Guyana needs to be reviewed and updated, it is time to look at the gaps identified by the Strategic Defence Review of 2014…ensure your operational contingency plans are updated and your training activities are designed to practice the skills and drills necessary to implement requisite actions,” he said.
The President said that of particular concern, must be the security of the hinterland and offshore. “Our miners and fishermen must be able to pursue their activities without facing the possibility of raids in their camps, ambushes along interior trails, and acts of piracy along our coastal fishing zones,” he said. “While we cannot always predict the timing of the source of possible threats to the national security, we must always ensure that everybody is in a state of readiness. There can be no room for complacency when it comes to national development,” he added.
The President said as well, that in going forward, the officers and senior Non Commissioned Officers need to understand the mission of the army, and to have a broad appreciation of its role in the context of defence and development. “You must be aware of the national development priorities strategy and objective and in your planning, operations and training…you must not be thinkers by purely military perspectives and objectives, your officer corps of the Guyana Defence Force has a vital role in ensuring a sound reputation for our military,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar with Chief-of- Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips and other senior and junior staff of the Guyana Defence Force on the lawns of the Officers’ Mess, Base Camp Ayanganna
President Ramotar also stressed professionalism and maintenance of the force’s credibility, which he noted has been a focus of the new Chief of Staff, who has his full support in this regard.
“… I feel proud of our military’s achievements, its historic exploits …but like so many others, I am distraught by the occasional manifestation of unprofessional conduct, which despoils the image of this institution,” the Head of State said.
“…I wish to express my full support for the new Chief of Staff. In all my meetings with him since his assumption to office, I get the clear impression that he is determined to enhance that professionalism by ensuring strong discipline with vigorous training and dedication, and keeping the interest of the men and the women of the army always in full focus,” he added.
The President also highlighted the Government of Guyana’s support to the military, towards its development and growth.
Brigadier Phillips in his address earlier pledged the military’s commitment to defending Guyana, without showing favouritism to any political side. He said that the army refrains from becoming involved in partisan politics.
He also addressed some of the initiatives to boost the military in 2014. He disclosed that three patrol vessels have been acquired under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, to be used by the Coast Guard to target inland security and another two vessels, purchased by Government are to be delivered to the Coast Guard in July.
Brigadier Phillips disclosed as well, that the GDF has commenced discussions towards rehabilitation and replacement of the existing fleet of aircraft, to address the issue of increased air patrol. The army has already acquired two Bell 206 helicopters, Phillips noted.
The GDF is also currently processing over 800 applications for the standard officers and basic recruit courses that will commence in March. Joint inter-agency operations are to become more intent in 2014 and the force will address with more urgency the issue of welfare and quality of life issues.
The Chief-of-Staff said that the future of the army must emerge from the two-day conference, but noted however, that the deliberations would stem from an interpretation of how things occurred in the past and the presumption of what the future would be like it.