Georgetown, Guyana – (August 21, 2019) President David Granger, this afternoon at the Ministry of the Presidency, met eleven scholarship awardees of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who will soon travel to the People’s Republic of China to take up their five-year scholarships.

The 11 Second Lieutenants will be pursuing studies in the fields of Industrial, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, Industrial, Electronic Information Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering, Bio-engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering and Technology.

In his address to the awardees, President Granger said that the Defence Force is being restructured and reorganized to ensure that it is well-commanded, well-trained and well-equipped to perform this role. The President said the Force’s technical corps – the Air Corps, Engineer Corps, Intelligence Corps, and Signal Corps as well as the Coast Guard – are being improved and retooled, as part of this restructuring and reorganization process.

“Improvements in the technical corps are necessary to develop a more modern and technologically-savvy Defence Force; to improve the Force’s operational and organizational capacity; to support the work of the non-technical arms of the Force; and to repel threats, including non-traditional threats along our borders,” he said.

Moreover, the Head of State said the Defence Force “must be ready to react effectively to traditional threats – incursions and to other forms of interventions. It must be prepared also, to strengthen its capacity to respond to new and emerging threats, such as biological and chemical warfare, cyber threats, electronic warfare, and environmental hazards. “

President Granger said too that Guyana’s doctrine of total national defence places emphasis, inter alia, on ensuring a body of scientifically-trained personnel to populate the technical arms of the Force. The continuous training of officers is a key element of this policy.

The President reminded that in his address to the graduates of the Standards Officers’ Course No. 50 and the Reserve Officers’ Course No. 16 he said training is fundamental to military service.

“It is the foundation of a professional and proficient Force. Training is essential for ensuring the success of military missions and enhancing operational and organizational effectiveness,” he said.

The doctrine of total national defence, he said also, emphasizes defence cooperation. Cooperation, with friendly governments and their armed forces, have allowed our Defence Force to improve its capabilities through training, joint exercises, the exchange of information, intelligence-sharing and procurement of non-lethal equipment, the President said.

“Defence Cooperation is being pursued with several countries – under regional, multilateral and bilateral arrangements. The People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army in particular, have been very supportive of our efforts at recapitalizing the Guyana Defence Force. They have provided non-lethal equipment and transport vehicles to our Defence Force. They have continued their long-standing policy of offering training to officers through the extension of scholarships to Chinese academic and military institutions,” the President said.

The Head of State said Guyana welcomes the People’s Republic of China’s latest offer of 11 full scholarships to officers of our Defence Force.

“I thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its cooperation and assistance over the years. I express my personal appreciation to His Excellency Cui Jianchun, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, for his efforts while being here in strengthening cooperation between our two states and I congratulate him,” he said.

President Granger told the scholarship awardees that their selection is testimony to the confidence which the Defence Force reposes in them. “I urge you to make the best use of the training and education which you will receive. I wish you every success in your studies and to your contributions to the establishment of a more modern Defence Force,” he said.

Similarly, Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Patrick West said that the 11 scholarships represent a historic milestone in the Defence Force. He reminded that it was President Granger who charged the Force to explore opportunities for training and education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in order to develop the technical competence of its members and also to establish the Technical Corps.

“Some of these areas despite being new to the GDF, are currently employed in the world at large. I am therefore certain that the education and exposure granted will see us beginning to achieve the aim of building the capacity of the Technical Corps,” Brigadier West said.

The Chief of Staff explained that the Force had only one prior instance where officers were granted extensive scholarships. Those awardees were members of Standard Officers Course (SOC) 16 who departed for Romania and Russia immediately after commissioning in 1985.

Brigadier West thanked China’s Ambassador to Guyana, Cui Jianchun for the support provided to the Force.

“I can say unequivocally that I expect that these awardees will be good ambassadors of the Force. We will hold them to the highest standards and expect great returns for the sacrifices the Force will be making in investing in their education in this way. I wish to express thanks to the members of the Force’s academic Board for the selection of this group who in their opinion were likely to earn selection at the universities of their choice,” he said while congratulating the awardees.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Cui Jianchun said with the scholarships Guyana and China’s cooperation is strengthened. He urged the recipients to cherish the opportunities provided to them and to be good Guyanese ambassadors.

“Guyana has a bright future…Guyana and China have a great foundation…share your experiences,” the Ambassador urged the scholarship awardees, even as he noted that “we need engineers, we need technology and we need the Guyana Defence Force to do more things for Guyana’s development.”

The scholarship awardees are Kevon Blount, Romain Wilson, Shaka Williams, Floyd Phillips, Jamaal Leitch, Sevon Ferreira, Shane Blair, Neon Fiedtkou, Shivanand Persaud, Seabra Manbode and Jehu West.

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