Guyana Army Being Retooled

Guyana Chronicle:- DEBUNKING claims of interference, President David Granger said his government has set about re-tooling the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) since assuming office as the force had suffered from years of organisational and other neglect.

The Ministry of the Presidency on Sunday in a statement clarified the role of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in the affairs of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in response to a recent letter in the Kaietuer News.

The letter to the editor, dated June 2, 2019 and headlined, ‘Too much presidential meddling in the daily affairs of the GDF’ reportedly written by an unnamed ‘concerned junior officer’, suggested that since taking office in May 2015, President Granger has been acting outside of his remit as commander-in-chief.

“The Ministry of the Presidency wishes to make it pellucid, that the Head of Government, since Independence had been Chairman of the Defence Board and Minister of Defence; his duties are detailed in the Defence Act, Chapter 15:01 of the Laws of Guyana,” the MoTP statement read.

The ministry observed that over the years, there has been organisational neglect which caused the destruction of the National Cadet Corps and the near extinction of the GDF Reserve Force (Guyana People’s Militia).

Additionally, the statement said it is a known fact that defence operations and training had been neglected during the former administration in the years 1992-2015.
“Since taking office, there have been regular annual exercises such as Exercise Greenheart and Exercise Ironweed which were restarted under this administration,” the Ministry of the Presidency said.

According to the statement, it should be noted that the President in his private capacity, before entering office, compiled a book: ‘Values and Standards of the Guyana Defence Force’ in the wake of the murder of persons in the Essequibo River by members of the Coast Guard.

“Needless to say, since 2015, there have been a plethora of changes in the GDF, including improvements to the Basic Recruitment Course. Officers are now being trained in equitation to enable them to conduct horseback patrols.

“The GDF has been able to acquire engineer’s equipment from the People’s Republic of China, which are being used to build roads; maritime patrols not limited to Operation Ocean Guard aimed at continuous aerial and maritime surveillance of the coastline; and territorial waters have increased and have led to the suppression of piracy,” the statement continued.

Also, the ministry mentioned that operational deployment along the country’s western border has been strengthened under Operation Armadillo, which was launched to respond to threats posed by criminal gangs along the borders and to protect the country’s frontline villages. This operation has resulted in a reduction in reports of assaults by foreign ‘Sindicato’ gangs and has since reinforced border security.

“It should be noted that all of the changes have been made on the direction of the GDF Board and is a full direction of the chief-of-staff to improve the efficiency of the force. Had there not been changes to the GDF, it would be deemed a dereliction of the President’s duty not to correct the bad practices which have damaged the reputation of the force,” the Ministry of the Presidency said.