National Defence Policy will enhance our military might -President Ali

-GDF to benefit from the acquisition of equipment, aircraft and marine vessels

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali today unveiled Guyana’s National Defence Policy, which is tailored to enhance civilian and military connection, improve soldiers’ welfare and to fortify the country’s defence line through the acquisition of aircrafts and marine vessels, while cultivating international relations.

The President made the announcement of his four-pillar policy at his inaugural address to the Annual Officers’ Conference (AOC) of the Guyana Defence Force, which was held at the National Cultural Centre.

The transformational policy is geared to revolutionise our defensive approach, which is based on a commitment to fraternal relations at home and with other states.

“We are keen on promoting good-neighbourly relations. We avoid belligerence in all forms. Guyana has no expansionist ambitions.  We covet no one’s territory or resources. Our defence policy will be guided by our desire for peace and in pursuit of protecting our national patrimony and deterring external threats and acts of aggression.”

Despite the underlying hope for amicable relations, the military will also be equipped to defend Guyana sovereignty.

“While we are a peaceful State, no one should underestimate our resolve at protecting our territory and safeguarding national sovereignty. Let not our peaceful intent be mistaken for weakness.  As I said recently, we will not bend to threats nor cower in the face of intimidation.”

 To ensure that Guyana’s military can safeguard our borders, the Head of State aims to recapitalise the GDF. 

He said Institution was the first pillar of the defence policy.

“The Force will continue to be recapitalised. It will benefit from the acquisition of equipment, aircraft and marine vessels, which will allow it to exercise improved surveillance over Guyana’s territory – its land territory, territorial sea, and Exclusive Economic Zone.”

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces noted that a stronger Force, does not necessarily mean a larger Force.

“We are building a smarter Defence Force with an emphasis on increased use of technology and intelligence so that we can know what is occurring on our borders and within our territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone. We will be enhancing the capabilities of the Force to respond to threats to our territory and to our people, including responses to emergencies and natural disasters.”

The President said that enhancing the country’s military and not improving the quality of life for its members would be counterproductive. He told the conference that his intention is to have a highly-motivated group of officers and subordinate ranks, hence the reason for his second pillar, Individual. 

According to Dr Ali, whenever ranks have to worry about their well-being and that of their families, it subtracts from their dedication to the job.

“The country’s Defence Policy is therefore aimed at improving the well-being of the members of this Force and that of their loved ones.  I have already committed to providing more scholarships and training opportunities for ranks. I have also said that we will launch a special housing programme for soldiers.  This will be administered from Camp Ayanganna.  In addition, soldiers and their families will benefit from improved health services.”

The National Defence Policy will also promote measures to ensure that ranks are provided for after retirement. It was announced that the goal is to equip members with skills, which they can use after their tenure in the Force has ended.

“A grateful nation takes care of those who are prepared to lay down their lives to protect our motherland. No solider must live in want and destitution. Our defence policy will therefore place emphasis on ensuring the personal well-being of our soldiers by providing them with greater opportunities for their professional and personal development.”

The President revealed that he was very impressed with the international support Guyana received when Venezuela seized two of our fishing vessels in the latter part of last month.

He said that diplomacy and international law must always be at the forefront of country-to-country conflict and that his Government would ensure that it is the first line of defence.  International cooperation was listed as the third pillar of the policy.

“Guyana will also forge close cooperation with sister militaries and friendly states, in enhancing the capacity of its armed forces. At present this cooperation is manifested in joint and multilateral military training exercises and through donations of non-lethal equipment from our friends and allies.”

The Head of State was clear in his delivery that relations with friendly militaries and states will only be established on friendship and cooperation.

“Guyana will be no pawn or puppet of any foreign power. No foreign power will establish any military bases on our soil. But we will exercise our sovereign rights to choose our friends and to enter into agreements which will enhance our defence force’s capabilities and our people’s development….While we are capable of resisting aggression, our first resort will always be to seek a peaceful resolution to any dispute.”

At home, the GDF will also be involved in national Integration—the fourth pillar of the policy. This is designed to ensure stronger community focus. 

“The members of the Force are highly skilled and versatile. These skills will be put at the disposal of our communities so as to demonstrate the acumen, aptitude and abilities of our men and women in uniform, and to contribute to national development.”

The President said that the Force’s mandate is to serve the people.

“The Guyana Defence Force will effectively execute its mandate as a national force only to the extent that it enjoys such support and confidence.”

The National Defence Policy will also see greater involvement of the GDF in search-and-rescue operations, in disaster response, in the provision of infrastructural services, in the defence and protection of border communities, in medical outreaches, in response to medical emergencies and in coaching and honing the talents of our athletes.

“The national defence policy will afford greater visibility to and attract higher levels of respect for the members of the Guyana Defence Force.”