Ministers of Government;
Members of the National Assembly;
Chancellor of the Judiciary;
Chief of Staff;
Former chiefs of staff of the Guyana Defence Force;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Heads of Service;
Senior Officers;
Officers and other ranks of the Guyana Defence Force;
Newly Commissioned Officers;
Special invitees;
Ladies and gentlemen:

It is my honour and obligation as Commander-in-Chief and on behalf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to congratulate the graduating class of the Standard Officer’s Course No#48 of the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School.

Guyana recognizes, also, the participation of three officers of our sister Caribbean States; Belize and Saint Kitts – Nevis, who attended this course. Their participation is in accord with our country’s commitment to regional integration. Guyana’s foreign policy is to foster closer relations among the friendly countries and the defence forces of the Caribbean. We are committed to collaborating with each other to ensure the security of small states and to guarantee that this region remains forever a zone of peace.
You, the newest officers of the Guyana Defence Force, now possess instruments of commission which constitute the legal authority appointing you as Second Lieutenants. These instruments allow you to fulfil your responsibilities to our country; to our citizens and to our communities. These responsibilities are clearly outlined in the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, which stipulates, and I quote:

“ ..The State’s Defence and security policy shall be to defend national independence, preserve the country’s sovereignty and integrity and guarantee the normal functioning of institutions and the security of citizens against any armed aggression.”

The Defence Act, also, in conformity with the Constitution states that the Force shall be charged with the defence of and maintenance of order in Guyana. The Constitution, the Defence Act and the Defence Board have entrusted the defence force with responsibilities for the security of our nation, for the safety of our citizens and for rendering service to our country and our communities.

The Guyana Defence Force, for half of a century, has been the sword and the shield of our homeland. It has protected us from danger, it has suppressed revolt, it has repelled incursions, and it has deterred would-be aggressors. The defence force has admirably guarded our nation’s skies, our waters, our territory and our patrimony and will continue to do so. The safety of our citizens is the most important task of the state; our people must enjoy security in their homes and in their communities.

Service to our communities, especially in times of disaster, is another responsibility of the state; the defence force, again, has always come to our rescue. We have, in this regard, announced the strengthening of our engineer corps to enable it to recommence the construction of bridges and roadways in our hinterland. We have also re-activated the Guyana People’s Militia, which, in accordance with the Defence Act, is a reserve force and can be deployed to render assistance to our regional administrations and our communities in times of emergency.

The Militia will become again the citizens’ army. It will be based in communities in every region of our country in order to keep those communities safe. A civil defence corps under the Civil Defence Commission is now being established to assist the government in times of environmental hazards.

The Guyanese officers who are members of the graduating class of SOC48 are expected to uphold the complex mission and responsibilities of the defence force. The nation looks to you to ensure the security of our country; to ensure the safety of all citizens and to provide service to our communities.

You, young Guyanese men and women, are expected to undertake these responsibilities, while upholding the six core values of the officer’s code – the values of:

• Service
• Loyalty
• Discipline
• Honour
• Trust
• Courage

I charge you to discharge these responsibilities with pride, with passion, and with professionalism.
Congratulations and may God bless you all!

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