GDF positioning to better protect Guyana’s borders

-2,272 ranks trained in 2019

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Guyana Defence Force is boosting its human resource and materiel capacity to better protect the country’s borders as the nation becomes an oil-producer.

Chief of Staff Brigadier Patrick West provided an overview of the force’s transformation on Thursday at the Annual Officer’s Conference at State House.

He said the process started last year with more active integrated patrolling in the border areas and these would be increased this year with coverage expanded across both land and sea.

“Now that the country is an oil-producing nation, the force must be better poised to handle some of the challenges that will arise and will do its best to maintain safety and security in this changing environment,” Brigadier West stated.

However,  he noted that the force needed the equipment to complement its human resource efforts.

“As the force continues this transformative process, ocean patrol vessels for the Coast Guard are necessary, helicopters for the Air Corps and more off-road vehicles are also necessary to ensure that as a force we have the capabilities that are required to support an emerging oil industry,” the chief said.

Meanwhile, the force has been taking advantage of the educational opportunities available both locally and overseas.

The army chief said 2,272 ranks were trained locally last year, representing some 73 percent of the force’s strength. Some 2,257  were trained locally in 2018. In 2019, 317 ranks attended external academic institutions compared to 197 in 2018 and 147 in 2017.

He also pointed out that through collaboration with the University of Guyana, the officers who completed the redesigned Standard Officers Course graduated with associate degrees in general studies. Eleven of the officers are now in China, undergoing STEM-related studies.

Additionally, the Chief of Staff said that after a hiatus of nine years, a batch of reservist officers was commissioned. Also, in the past year, three new aircraft were added to the force’s fleet.

The brigadier noted that this meant more pilots and engineers were needed and several officers have since completed pilot training in the US.

This year’s conference is being held under the theme “Effective Transformation for Total National Defence.”