New Chief-of-Staff encouraged to effect positive change – as army bids farewell to Rear Admiral Best

Georgetown, GINA, September 17, 2013




Brigadier Mark Phillips has been put on alert about the challenges he is likely to confront in his new command of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), but encouraged to remain focused on his desire to lead the force and effect positive change.


The advice came from Rear Admiral Gary Best who officially handed over the responsibility of Chief-of-Staff to Brigadier Phillips, ending 33 years in the army, six of which he spent as Chief-of-Staff.


“Your greatest test is not where you stand in the good moments, but where you stand in times of challenge and controversy. You will have to be strong and hold your ground. You will have many testing moments however, be inspired by you desire to lead and develop further the Guyana Defence Force (GDF),” Rear Admiral Best encouraged the new Chief-of -Staff.


Before President Donald Ramotar and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, military officials from neighbouring Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, senior and retired GDF officers, Rear Admiral Best in his farewell speech at Base Camp Ayanganna also advised Brigadier Phillips to exercise his authority to effect positive change in the army.


The new Chief-of-Staff, who has promised to lead the force with professionalism as his guide, took the oath of office before Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces President Donald Ramotar on September 16. There, he had appealed for parents to influence their children to join the army.


His predecessor was honoured today at a Change of Command Parade at Base Camp Ayanganna which included prayers, inspection of the parade, march past, handover of the Force Colours, Change of Emblem and farewell gun salute.


A farewell gun salute, band display and flyover was given to Rear Admiral Best who conducted his final parade inspection before delivering his final address, part of which included advice on security priorities.


“It is critical that a constant and sharp eye be placed on aviation and maritime development, to provide faster access to forest and remote area protection and hydrocarbon security,” Rear Admiral Best said.


The first officer to wear the rank of Rear Admiral, Best was satisfied and proud of his over three decades of service to the force.


“I believe that I worked to instill a sense of morality, purpose and professionalism in their (soldiers’) lives. I believe that I worked to provide a foundation for education, growth and continued transformation of the GDF,” Rear Admiral Best said.


The Brazilian Merchant Marine Trained and best graduating student of the 1981 Standard Officers Course, assumed command of the GDF in September 2007.


He commanded the coast guard during the period 1994 to 1999 and was instrumental in the establishment of the Coast Guard Law Enforcement District and the Maritime Information System database.


He is fluent in Portuguese and is currently reading for a PhD in International Relations at the University of the West Indies in the area of climate change.


His successor has already been active in dialogue at the level of the Defence Board and told the media about his intentions to operationalise the strategic vision of his predecessor to partner with the Surinamese Government.


Brigadier Phillips is the holder of a University of Guyana Bachelor’s Degree in Public Management and Dominican Republic La Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra Masters Degree in Public Sector Management.


During the period 2008 to 2009 he was head of a Guyana delegation to the Inter-American Defence Board and successfully completed the 50th Advanced Course in Hemispheric Defence and Security at the Inter-American Defence College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C during the academic year 2010-2011.


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