President Irfaan Ali Wednesday said that Guyana must never be found wanting as it relates to the security of the state, urging the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to always be ready to respond to security challenges.
“Guyana must never be found wanting when it comes to addressing security threats whether emanating from within or outside our borders. I refer not only to what is termed the hardcore threats and challenges but all threats and challenges,” Ali said as he addressed the annual GDF officers’ conference.
He told the conference that Guyana must take stock of security threats in other countries and prepare itself, noting that as an oil-producing country, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country could attract some of those threats.
President Ali said in addition to security challenges, the GDF also has a responsibility to rise to the challenge and deliberate on how it will address issues such as food and energy crisis not only in Guyana but in the region so that it will also be in a state of readiness to respond.
Ali said that to get the GDF to where it needs to be, continuous training is necessary and that his administration already plans to review the Officers attaché’s deployment to Embassies and High Commissions saying that the country must be well represented.
He said also training for officers along the country’s borders is necessary, not only for their own edification but for them to educate citizens within their jurisdiction so that they too can have a solid understanding of the country’s security challenges.
“I have expressed my concerns in some of these areas and I am sure that they will be addressed. This conference must come out with specific agenda of addressing this issue. I want to see out of this conference a manual on our borders that every officer posted at our border location must have that manual and be trained in that manual and must be and must be able to train others from that manual,” Ali said.
He told the conference that the government will be making resources available to the GDF to boost its infrastructural capacity to respond to challenges.
“We are expanding the capacity of the Guyana Defense Force to better discharge its functions and to be responsible for the variation and complexity of challenges facing the state,” Ali said, noted the importance of the annual officers’ conference.
He said the GDF would have to weed out those “bad apples” and the ones who don’t give a damn about the work in the Force, while challenging the officers to be leaders across the Caribbean in their field and also told them that they should complete studies and research that could aid in the Force’s development.
Meanwhile, outgoing GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess, has assured that the Force is on high alert to respond to the country’s territorial challenges including monitoring the borders with Venezuela.
“We remain deployed on our borders 365 days every year as we seek to defend the territorial integrity of Guyana. Further, we continue to keenly monitor the judicial process at the International Court of our long standing border dispute with Venezuela”
Venezuela has repeatedly laid claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region and the matter is now before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) even though the issue had been settled decades ago.
Brigadier Bess said while Guyana pursues a final judicial settlement at the ICJ, the GDF remains resolute in protecting Guyana’s sovereignty.
“While the Guyana government is committed to a peaceful resolution, the Guyana Defense Force stands resolute in defense of our territorial integrity
“Our officers and ranks remain on high alert, ready to give support and work with our local agencies to address any occurrence that has the potential to interrupt the smooth function of society, whether it be civil disturbance of natural disaster,” said the Chief of Staff who is due to end his services in May.