Georgetown, Guyana (January 16, 2020): President David Granger, this morning, called on the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to consider its role in strengthening border and maritime defence as it is the guardian of the country’s national patrimony.

President Granger declared, “the Protection of the country’s national patrimony is paramount” while reminding that “Economic security is essential to national development. The people of this country can benefit from its bountiful resources only if they are protected. Officers’ Conference 2020 should therefore consider the Defence Force’s role in strengthening border and maritime defence and in ensuring the economic development of our beloved country.”

The Head of State, who was at the time speaking at the Force’s Annual Officers’ Conference in the Baridi Benab, said the Defence Force, today, is a more “superior organisation” than it was five years ago.

“Public confidence in its [GDF] capabilities have been restored. National defence, as a consequence, has improved. These improvements will continue over the next ten years. Guyana is entering a transformative stage of development during which four transformational processes will unfold,” the President said.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said Guyana is in the process of becoming a ‘petroleum state’, possessing substantial petroleum reserves in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); a ‘green state’ emphasising the preservation and protection of our environment, the sustainable management of our natural resources and increased generation of renewable energy sources; a ‘digital state’, promoting increased communications integration and interconnectivity; and an ‘education nation’, enabling universal primary and secondary education and easier access to tertiary education.

President Granger said the Force, at the institutional level, can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the aforementioned processes and, also, at the national level, ensure an environment conducive to realizing them.

“The nation looks to the Force to protect economic activity in its maritime zone, to ensure safe and secure borders, to protect its people and natural resources and to suppress transnational crime. The protection of the country’s national patrimony is paramount. There can be no human development and no opportunity for increased prosperity unless a safe environment that is conducive to national development is created,” the Commander-in-Chief declared.

The President said the Decade of Development (2020-2029), which was launched this year, will include investments aimed at the continuous retooling and strengthening of the Defence Force, expanding the Militia and intensifying field training in long-range jungle operations.

President Granger told the Officers that the Defence Force has effected organisational change to better identify and deter threats to territorial integrity and the national patrimony.

“The past five years have witnessed the Force’s regularization, reorganization and recapitalization. The Defence Force today is fit for role. The promulgation of a defence doctrine, the strengthening of the technical corps, the pursuit of defence cooperation with friendly countries and the implementation and organizational restructuring have improved the Force’s readiness to respond to threats,” the Commander-in-Chief said.

Further, the Head of State said the Force’s overarching defence policy – the doctrine of Total National Defence – implies that all the elements of national power – diplomatic, economic, military, political, social and technological – will be employed to reinforce defence and promote economic development.

“This doctrine means that the nation must depend on an affordable but effective Defence Force while counting on the cooperation of citizens in the event of a challenge to its territorial integrity,” he said, while noting that the Force’s recapitalization programme has been boosted by increases in Central Government’s budgetary allocations.

The Defence Force has received financial resources to improve its capabilities with budgetary allocations increasing by more than 72.7 per cent from G$8.04 billion in 2014 to G$13.9 billion in 2019.

GDF, Chief of Staff, Brigadier Patrick West said the Force will be celebrating its 55th anniversary this year and noted that over the years the Force has remained the stable band in society continuing to build on the foundation of predecessors.

Brigadier West said the Force is cognisant of the threats that will seek to impede the process of transformation and development driven by the emerging oil industry, mining, movement of persons, failing regional states and ever-increasing dependence of cyberspace.

“Now that the country is an oil producing nation, the Force must be better poised to handle some of the challenges that will arise and will do its best to maintain safety and security in the changed environment,” the Chief of Staff said, while assuring that this year the Force’s leadership will continue to enforce its values and standards.

Brigadier West said the GDF is better resourced now than it was in preceding years. “…We have a more active professional military education and academic education programme. This has resulted in more value-added soldiers and more officers continuing to benefit from tertiary education…As a Force, we have seen improved readiness as a result of our preparations for and during Force tactical exercises. Our resource pool was increased with the additional aircraft, vehicles and equipment. There have been infrastructural improvements as well. Excellency, because of these improvements I am happy to report that the morale of the Force is high,” the Chief of Staff said.

This year’s conference is themed, “Effective transformation for Total National Defence”.

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