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GDF adds value to Indigenous Heritage Celebrations

For the Guyana Defence Force, involvement in the annual celebration of Indigenous Heritage Month is a traditional occurrence. First off, the GDF mounts a Guard of Honour, which greets the Head of State upon his arrival at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, for the official opening of the celebrations. The Guard of Honour usually comprises members of the GDF who are of Indigenous heritage. This year it was no different.

The GDF was also present at the Heritage Week observations at Santa Mission, on the Demerara River. Santa Mission was selected as the Heritage Village. As expected, a contingent from the Force was dispatched to the Mission, with the express aim to aid in preparations, and to participate in the celebrations there. The contingent rose to the challenge, and provided sterling service at the Heritage Village, as its residents prepared to host the Heritage Week celebrations.

Led by, Major Mendonca of the GDF’s First Infantry Battalion, the contingent numbering some  30 persons, departed Base Camp Ayanganna on September 5, and arrived at Santa Mission at 17:30hrs that day. The team immediately got to work, assisting the residents of the Mission with various aspects of the preparations.

Members of the GDF contingent also turned out crisply, and greeted Minister of  Indigenous Affairs, the Honourable Sydney Allicock, and other visiting government officials, with a Guard of Honour.

Throughout the ensuing celebrations, the soldiers worked alongside the “locals”, and provided whatever assistance was needed. Apart from working tirelessly to ensure a safe environment, they also joined with the residents and other visitors to celebrate. The GDF serves the people of Guyana, and remains committed to contributing to the development of Guyana, through its involvement in national events.




GDF presents 28 with Bursaries for 2015

Amba Skeete, Faith Albert, and Tyrese Fortune were the top three awardees of the Guyana Defence Force 2015 Bursaries. They were among the 28 students who received awards valued $25,000 each. The Bursaries are presented annually to the children of Officers, Other Ranks and civilian employees of the Force who successfully complete the National Grade Six Examinations and gain places at secondary schools.

Deputy Chief of Staff, Colonel Kemraj Persaud, congratulated the awardees and their parents for the hard work and dedication which has resulted in success. “As products of families associated with the military, your success at this level is a demonstration that you are taking advantage of the opportunities available to you. These awards are meant to assist with your continued academic development. Your continued association with us will, most likely result in the inculcation of qualities such as loyalty, honesty, the determination to give of your best, being professional in your approach to what you undertake, and the embrace of excellence. The GDF is proud to be able to be involved in your development as young people and, we anticipate your continued growth throughout your sojourn at secondary school,” he said. “I urge you to embrace attributes such as respect for your own selves and for authority, punctuality; to develop a sense of belonging and camaraderie and to learn and practice time management. These are all important for your academic development. To the parents, continue to be steadfast and unstinting in your support. Your children are embarking on another critical phase in their academic learning. Help them to help you stay the proud parents you are,” he added.

Top Awardee, Amba Skeete moved the vote of thanks on behalf of the awardees. “We are thankful to God who has made this all possible; to our parents who continue to love, care for and support us and to the GDF for presenting us with these Bursaries,” she said.

The GDF began awarding Bursaries 1974 and this group of awardees brings the number of recipients over the years, to 842.  Awardees have generally done exceedingly well, going beyond secondary school to a gain university education, and, others who also excelled became serving members of the Force. The GDF congratulates all the recipients of the 2015 Bursaries and wishes them much success in the future.




Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col)Terry Benn, formally handed command of Base Camp Stephenson to Lt Col Ramkarran Doodnauth, on August 28. The formalisation of the new command occurred at the Change of Command Parade which was held at the Base Camp Stephenson.

Lt Col Benn’s military experiences began with his enlistment in the National Cadet Corps of the Guyana National Service (GNS) where he rose to become a Cadet Leader. This son of a farmer, travelled to the GNS facility at Kimbia, as a Cadet Leader, where, mistaken for an Officer, he was roundly saluted by a Pioneer. That, he declared, was the defining moment which stoutly set his mind along the path of embracing a military career, much to his mother’s chagrin. “She had hoped that I would become a doctor or a lawyer,” he recalled. Yet, he did not immediately gravitate to the military, choosing first to clerk at the then Guyana Rice board, and later take a job at the national Insurance Scheme. Despite the detour, the military beckoned, and, at the invitation of then Prime Minister, Dr Ptolemy Reid, enlisted in the GDF.

Lt Col Benn served under all eight Executive Presidents and Commanders in Chief, and under the command of six Chiefs of Staff. “During the 36 years of my service, I have served under some very good leaders and I have had many good soldiers under my command. It was an honour to have served with and alongside such men and women who made the necessary sacrifices and placed the good of the nation and organisation above the needs of their relatives, friends and families. I am proud to have served this organisation and my country!” he said.

Speaking of his imminent retirement from the Force, Lt Col Benn said that this is the time for the youth to step up. “It is my fervent belief that they are more than up to the task. I have every reason to believe that the GDF will continue to distinguish itself as an organisation worthy of the nation’s expenditure. After all, the GDF is the stable band in this country!” he noted. “To the leaders I leave behind, remember that the GDF is a family and your soldiers are members of that family. Teach them the family traditions: who we are, what we have done, where we have been, and what makes us different from ordinary. Communicate. Make sure they understand the message. Be open to their ideas. Treat them with respect and help them to grow into respectable citizens of this great nation!” he added.

The outgoing Base Commander urged his successor to embrace the adventure ahead of him. “It will be a nerve-racking experience. All of your training and experience will be brought to bear. Your success will be determined by your ability to mould your staff into cohesive well-oiled machinery, capable of delivering timely and quality service to all the Units housed on the Base.”

Lt Colonel Benn thanked all the Officers and ranks who played a part in his professional development and sustenance. He remarked that without all their efforts at guidance, discipline, teaching and being supportive, he would not have achieved much nor made any significant contributions to the Force. He urged all the members of the Force to make the most of their career with the GDF. “Accept every challenge; seek out every adventure and make good memories!”

The Chief of Staff, Officers and Other Ranks, thank Lt Col Benn for his selfless and superlative service to the GDF and Guyana and wish him well in his future endeavours.


“Live in the now! Focus on doing your best to realise your dreams...!” COS encourages recruits.


Four hundred and ten young men from across Guyana, are currently undergoing training on the GDF Basic Recruit Course (BRC), with the aim of becoming soldiers. Among them are 106 Reservists who recently completed two weeks of training at the Force’s Annual (Reservist) Camp.


Welcoming the recruits to the BRC, Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips yesterday urged them to forget about home for the period of their training and live in the now. “In order to be successful and to learn all you need to learn to become soldiers of whom Guyana can be proud, it is important for you to live in the now. Focus on the present. Push thoughts of friends, girlfriends and the like to the back of your head. Focus on your training and learn as much as you can and apply yourself by putting your best foot forward!” he said. “Your loved ones are expecting you to be a success on this course and I am sure that they will be very proud once you persevere and realise your dream to become soldiers.” The Chief of Staff also urged the recruits to stay the course and to ensure that they approached everything during their training with discipline. “You came to us as civilians. It is our task to convert you to soldiers. However, you can only become a good soldier by exercising a high degree of discipline. Discipline is the bedrock of all we do here in the GDF. You are being trained to be the defenders of Guyana; a very serious and sacred responsibility. In order to do so to the best of your ability you must be disciplined!” he said

The recruits for the current BRC are being trained in two cohorts, one at the Colonel John Clarke Military School at Tacama, and the second at Base Camp Seweyo on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. The recruits who have commenced training were culled from the hundreds of applicants seeking to establish a career as soldiers, and, following the 10-week BRC are scheduled to be promoted to Privates on October 30.


GDF ANNUAL CAMP FOR RESERVISTS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS: All 10 Regions to get Reserve detachments

More than 300 young males and females, from across coastal Guyana, successfully completed a two-week stint at the Guyana Defence Force 2015 edition of its Annual Camp for reservists. The participants, whose ages ranged from 18 years to 41 years, were drawn from Region’s two, three, four, five, six and 10; and, while a few already had jobs, the majority were unemployed.

The Camp’s participants demonstrated the proficiency they developed over the period, in the areas of Drills, Skill At Arms, Weapons Handling and Marksmanship, Foot and Vehicular Patrols, Fieldcraft, and, Jungle Operations and Survival Techniques. Other areas of instruction included Military Knowledge, Disaster Risk Management, and an understanding of the GDF’s Social Media Policy. The Camp was conducted at Base Camp Seweyo, and at the Colonel Robert Mitchell Jungle and Amphibious Training School (JATS) at Makouria, with the reservists spending one week at each location.

In his address at the conclusion of the camp, Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips, congratulated and praised the participants for their bravery and endurance. “I am proud of you all as I am sure you are proud of yourselves. I am proud firstly, because you dared to leave the comfort of your families and your familiar communities, to come to us and engage in this two-week training programme. That was a courageous decision. I am also proud that you have endured the environment and the training. That demanded of you your purposefulness and commitment. Congratulations!”

Brigadier Phillips recounted for the participants, a brief history of the GDF “Reserves” noting that the Reserves is as old as the GDF itself, because the Defence Act which established the GDF in 1965, declared clearly, that it must comprise a Regular and a Reserve force. The high point of the Reserves, was the establishment of the Guyana People’s Militia (GPM), which existed from 1976 to 1997, after which, it was downsized as and was designated the Second Infantry Battalion Group (Reserve).

The COS cited a publication by current Commander in Chief His Excellency President David Granger, which explains the role of the Reserve to be to provide a framework by which our people can be trained and be ready for emergencies, to support the regular force in all of its functions when called upon to do so, and to provide a reservoir of trained recruits for the regular force. “Notwithstanding the changes over the years, the Reserve continues to be an important component of the Guyana defence Force, carrying out important defence and national security-related activities throughout Guyana. Our reserve contributes today, to national defence by not only being mobilised for national emergencies, but can be found serving on our border locations.”

Additionally, the GDF Chief of Staff said that the Guyana Defence Force Second Infantry Battalion Reserve must have detachments in all the administrative regions of Guyana. “Defence and Security (for Guyana) is not a Coastal affair! We have to build up our Reserve Battalion. We have to return to having a vibrant reserve force,” he added. Brigadier Phillips revealed that a concept paper, prepared by Commander of the 2 Inf Bn (Res), Colonel Patrick West, outlines a proposal for the establishment of Coast Guard and Air Corps Reserve Units, as well as an additional Reserve Battalion at the Second Infantry. However, Brigadier Phillips said that in the short-term, the Force will work to re-establish reserve detachments in every administrative region of Guyana. “The interior of Guyana, our hinterland, is not a separate nation! It is, undoubtedly, the most prosperous region of Guyana and it is now necessary, that all our regions have reservists to readily reinforce the regular Force to secure our borders and effectively harness the talents of residents to respond to national disasters such as floods and other environmental hazards,” he said.

“The reserves has been here since the establishment of the GDF and, as we celebrate 50 years of service, we are also celebrating the service of our reservists!” said the COS. “The defence of Guyana and the guarantee of her territorial integrity depends on a robust and vibrant Reserve force.” He added. “You, who are present at this year’s Annual Camp, have volunteered to be trained and to be brought to a stage of readiness during this camp. I ask you to commit yourselves to attending further training and exercises planned for the remainder of 2015, because these will make you better trained and ready for your role in the defence and security of Guyana,” Brigadier Phillips encouraged.

Presenting an overview of the Camp and its activities, Commanding Officer, Second Infantry Battalion Reserve (2 Inf Bn Res), Colonel (Col) Patrick West, explained that the Camp was designed in part to expose the reservists to the fundamentals of closed country Warfare and Jungle Operations skills that could be used to support and protect the mining and forestry industries, enable an easier formal transition from Coastland to Interior living, and to curb phobias usually resident in citizens, regarding the military and what it does. He noted that the Camp’s objectives had been met.

Some of the short-term goals of the 2 Inf Bn (Res), as outlined by Colonel West, included the re-establishment of active Companies in all the Regions of Guyana, the rebuilding of the corps of Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, the rehabilitation of Drill Halls, the regrouping of Reserve Officers, and the re-establishment of the School Cadet programme. With regard to the latter, Col West revealed that the pilot schools identified thus far, are the New Amsterdam Multilateral and the Stewartville Secondary.

Over the years, the GDF Annual Camps have always been conducted. The Force is building the reserves with the objective to bring its strength up to two complete battalions. About ten percent of the 2015 Camp’s reservists are gainfully employed; and with another seventy percent indicating a desire to continue serving in the military, it is quite likely that the 2 Inf Bn (Res) will quickly achieve its objective.