Georgetown, Guyana – (August 16, 2019) Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Guyana, President David Granger, this morning, observed the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Field Tactical Exercise ‘Exercise Green Heart’ at the Colonel John Clarke Military School, Tacama, Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten). Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo also observed the exercise.

President Granger, in congratulating the 951 troops on the completion of a successful exercise, said the GDF has been rebuilding its strength over the last four years.

“You have been able to re-equip the Force and when we speak of re-equipment we mean with a soldier in mind, that everything you need, everything you eat, everything you wear, has been given careful attention by the Chief of Staff and his principal staff,” President Granger said, while expressing satisfaction that ranks of both the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana People’s Militia participated in the Exercise which started on August 6, 2019.

The President said the Force has been re-equipped to cater to its needs and the needs of soldiers. “The rebuilding is continuing; the re-equipping is continuing. You have a wider range of vehicles now, additional aircraft,” he said, noting that with additional training and aircraft, the Force is in an even better position to protect Guyana’s territorial integrity.

With the restructuring of the GDF, the Commander-in-Chief said several aspects of the Force have been strengthened and pointed specifically to the Intelligence Corps and Medical Corps.

“We are also reforming the Force so it is not only about a rebuilding or re-equipping or restructuring…in addition to the training you are receiving here, you’d be training in values and standards and I was happy to see in ‘Exercise Green Heart’ elements of the GDF paying attention to the civilians in this East Berbice-Corentyne Region by meeting, engaging with civilians who live in this Region,” he said.

The President said the exercise has demonstrated the effectiveness of the Defence Force while disclosing that the Defence Board, the governing body of the Force is satisfied that the Force is on the right path to improving its competence to defend Guyana’s sovereignty.

“We are pleased with your performance; I congratulate you,” the Head of State said.

Every year since 2015, members of the GDF have been participating in Field Tactical Exercises and a number of other training programmes.

“Soldiers, this is an important part of your military experience and military service. This year, we have included members of the Guyana Police Force because in accordance with the requirements of Operation Armadillo, soldiers and police have to operate in the border and hinterland regions together. But you the members of the GDF, in particular, are very important to this country. The people of Guyana look to you to defend this country. They look to you to deter aggression against this country. This annual Field Tactical Exercise is a very important part of your career and you can look forward year after year to being here,” the President said after witnessing the live simulation activity.

President Granger reminded that it is important for members of the GDF to be familiar with the country’s land mass as they have to be able to operate in all forms of terrain.

“Without training you would never be able to perform your functions. You’d become flabby as an army; you’d become incompetent so what you do here today is essential and normal and in no way should it [be] regarded as something extraordinary. Every year you should be able to look forward to your Ironweed or Green Heart,” the President said.

President Granger referenced the influx of Venezuelan migrants to Guyana during this year and noted that the Force has had to strengthen its deployment along the country’s borders.

“You cannot be in Camp Stephenson alone or Camp Ayanganna alone, you have to be able to operate in the field in any weather, in any terrain and every year,” he said while reminding that Monday, the 50th anniversary of the defence of the New River will be observed.

“We were able to do so effectively and efficiently and successfully [defend the New River] and right now have been able to retain every square kilometre of this territory because of the Guyana Defence Force. I applaud the Guyana Defence Force and I thank you very much,” the Commander-in-Chief said.

The President told members of the GDF that without consistent training, vigilance or the demonstration of competence, the Force would not be able to guarantee territorial integrity and security. He called on the troops to be proud of the achievements of those officers who served in the past but also look to the future and their capabilities so that Guyana’s territorial sovereignty is protected.

Exercise Green Heart, the second of its kind since 2015, culminated just after the break of dawn and saw soldiers attacking enemy positions at the Tacama airstrip. Gunshots rang out across the battle field just off the Airstrip, while grenades were tossed from various directions, and smokescreens were released to assist the troops with their attack. Leading up to this morning’s final attack, the troops participated in patrols, as well as para-trooping while occupying defensive positions in the jungle for ten days. In the end, the troops emerged victorious, demonstrating that they were ready to defend Guyana’s sovereignty.

Lieutenant Colonel Raul Jerrick, Staff Officer One General Three (Operations and Training) said the exercise was held to test the preparedness of the troops to conduct operations in a close-country or jungle environment. It also aimed at identifying deficiencies which could be corrected to ensure optimal competency, he said.

A total of 951 GDF troops, inclusive of 189 Reservists, engaged in ‘Exercise Green Heart’ between Mara Settlement and Tacama waterfront, in the Upper Berbice River. Thirty ranks of the Guyana Police Force were also involved in the Exercise while approximately 115 ranks from the Guyana People’s Militia participated. Medical outreaches were also conducted in the communities in the area.

Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams S.C.; Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon; Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leslie James and Mr. Bruce Lovell also observed the exercise.

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