President David Granger: Soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force, good morning. Look at that beautiful national flag, and it’s a great day. Honourable Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo; Honourable Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Members of the Defence Board; Chief of Staff; Commanders of the Guyana Defence Force; soldiers:

Today the Defence Board has come out to greet you on your 51st anniversary.

Last year, we declared the 1st of November Defence Force Day and today we celebrate another anniversary of the defence force. We celebrate fifty-one years of struggle, of sacrifice and of service to this nation.

Defence Force Day is meant to remind all Guyanese of your dedication, of your determination, of your discipline and your commitment to protect this country. You have always had two objectives, one of defence and the other of development. The defence force is deployed to the four corners of this country, from Mabaruma down to Achiwuib, from Arau to Orealla.

You have the responsibility to protect our country by day or by night, in sunshine or rainfall, in the swamps, in the jungles, in the savannahs, on the beaches. The Defence Board has been happy to see you last year on your annual Exercise Green Heart and we’ve been proud this year to see you again on Exercise Home Guard. We know that if we don’t exercise you’ll become weak and flabby, so we were very happy to see you exercising, keeping fit and remaining capable of performing your duty.

Soldiers, Guyana has over 3,000 kilometres of border and you have to be responsible for protecting those borders. We have 450 kilometres of coastline and your Coast Guard has to be responsible for protecting that coastline. We cannot give that responsibility to anyone else. So we have to rely on you and we are proud in our ability to rely on you year in, year out, to discharge that responsibility. In another month’s time the whole country will be celebrating Christmas, but you will be protecting our frontiers. Many Guyanese will be with their families, but you will be keeping an eye on our frontiers to make sure that they are safe, that they are secure in their homes. This is your duty. This is why you joined the Defence Force and we are thankful and grateful for the manner in which you perform that duty.

I would also like to take this opportunity to formally say farewell to your former Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips, who demitted office last month. I would like to thank him for his years of service, not only as Chief of Staff but also coming through the ranks for over more than three decades from the level of a cadet. The Defence Board was happy to work with him and we thank him for his service.

The Board would also like to record its thanks for the service of Brigadier George Lewis and to welcome him into the post of Chief of Staff. Again, he is an officer with decades of service and we are very happy to have him on the Board in the position of Chief of Staff. So we welcome him once again – so it’s a matter of hello Chief of Staff, goodbye Chief of Staff; but you are well commanded and the Board is confident in the ability of their officers to discharge their responsibilities to you, the members of the Defence Force and to Guyana.

Soldiers, the price we must pay for our security and safety is eternal vigilance. Guyana would have been a different place had it not been for the GDF. It is the GDF, which over the last five decades protected the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of our nation. The Defence Force together with our diplomats formed the bulwark, formed the shield that will ensure that the country that we inherited is passed on to posterity.

This is your responsibility and today we express our gratitude to you and we also express our encouragement for you to keep on soldiering and keep on making sure that Guyana is a safe place for prosperity.

I congratulate you on your anniversary, I thank you for your service and I pray that God may bless you all and your families.

Thank you.

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