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COMMAND CHANGES AT GUYANA DEFENCE FORCE SECOND INFANTRY BATTALION

Colonel Enoch W Gaskin, formally handed command of the Second infantry Battalion to Colonel Patrick West, on July 28. The formalisation of the new command occurred at the Change of Command Parade which was held at the battalion’s Headquarters, at Base Camp Seweyo.

In farewell remarks, outgoing commander, Colonel Enoch Gaskin, recounted the beginnings of his military career and highlighted many of his experiences as a serviceman. Having enlisted some thirty six (36) years ago as a Private in the regular component of the Guyana People’s Militia, Colonel Gaskin explained that his association with the military begun much earlier. “I was part of the historic first national reservist training camp. That reservist training had been undertaken, in answer to the call to arms to defend (Guyana) against aggression by Guyana’s Western neighbour in 1976. That camp was held at Konwaruk National Service training centre. It is ironic that my career is coming to an end, at a time when that same western neighbour is once again beating war drums and rattling the sabre,” he observed.

The Colonel said that the singular most impacting aspect of his career was his appointment as Chairman of the Joint Services Training Committee. That appointment, he explained, allowed for the building of capacity and unity in the Joint Services, through training.

During his rather illustrious career, Colonel Gaskin held several appointments across the Force. “My satisfaction, however, has been to selflessly sharemy knowledge for the improvement of the Force. Sometimes, my interventions were unwelcomed, while at other times, it was most welcomed. My only desire was to contribute to the improvement of the Force, and I think that I did!” He emphasized that, “... the GDF is an organization in

which everyone can realise their dreams…I encourage young soldiers and officers to stay the course. Seek always to develop yourselves through self study and formal opportunities to learn new things. Continue to enjoy the satisfaction of giving service in defence of the State.”

Colonel Gaskin encouraged his successor, Colonel Patrick West to continue in the building of the Guyana Defence Force Reserves. “Command of the Reserves is indeed a privilege. The Reserves, from a historical time, represents the commitment of our citizens to actively participate in the defence of the state. Continue the task of providing quality leadership to this national pillar!” he said.

 Colonel Enoch Gaskin hails from Ruby village on the East Bank of Essequibo. He has completed numerous military courses through his career and is a highly-qualified paratrooper. Colonel Gaskin is also very qualified academically as he has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Finance Controller of Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League Pays Courtesy Call on Chief of Staff

Finance Controller of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCESL), Colonel Nigel Dransfield, paid a courtesy call on GDF Chief of Staff (COS), Brigadier Mark Phillips, at his office at Base Camp Ayanganna on Monday, July 27 last.

During the visit, Col Dransfield apprised Brigadier Phillips on the purpose of his visit, indicating that his visit to Guyana was to conduct an audit of the Guyana Veterans Legion. The audit, he explained was to determine the efficiency of the disbursement of funding from the RCESL to the Veterans of Guyana. He explained that as Controller of the RCESL the audit was his responsibility. “The audit of affiliated Commonwealth Ex-Service Legions is conducted every four years and it is our way of ensuring that funding from the RCESL is actually reaching the veterans whom it is meant to benefit,” he said. He remarked that this was his first visit to Guyana and expressed thanks to the COS for his graciousness in accommodating his visit.

Brigadier Phillips warmly received and welcomed Col Dransfield to Guyana and to the GDF Defence Headquarters. He noted that the visit is most timely and expressed the hope that his undertaking will be very fruitful. The COS also lauded the Colonel’s work to foster harmonious relations between the Ex-Service associations of the Commonwealth.

Accompanying Col Dransfield were officials of the Guyana Veterans’ Legion in the persons of Warrant Officer Class One (Ret’d), Arno Solomon (Vice President); Mr Kingsley Nelson (General Secretary), Major (ret’d) Stanislaus Canzius (Treasurer). Prior to his departure on Thursday, Col Dransfield will call on His Excellency President David Granger and will also visit the Veterans Home at Lamaha Springs.

Twenty-four Cadets of the Florida National Guard wrap up training stint with GDF

Twenty-four Cadets of the Florida National Guard, who are in Guyana on the third edition of the Guard’s Cultural Understanding and Language Programme (CULP), completed their training with the GDF today. The cadets were awarded their certificates at a simple ceremony at the GDF’s Colonel Robert Mitchell Jungle and Amphibious Training School (CRM-JATS) at Makouria, on the Essequibo River.

Addressing the graduating cadets, Acting Chief of Staff, Colonel Kemraj Persaud lauded their endurance. “Your training with us has occurred at a critical time when our country faces threats from our Western neighbour. You would have, during your training realised our level of preparedness for such a challenge. Exercises like this help us to forge strong bilateral relations with our partners who can assist in our efforts to remain a peaceful nation. The highlight of your week of training was the jungle survival element. That you are alive and well, is testimony to your fortitude and determination to endure. You were challenged to survive very harsh conditions, designed to test that very element of endurance. Indeed, the training would have also enhanced aspects of your character. Character is important for all good leaders and its development determines how successful, as individuals, you become.”

Colonel Persaud encouraged the cadets to embrace values such as loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, integrity and personal courage. He also spoke to the issue of personal courage saying that personal courage was “...not the absence of fear, but rather, the ability to cast fear aside and do what is necessary.” He observed that the physical aspect of courage required overcoming the fear of bodily harm in doing one’s duty. “It is the bravery, for example, that allows a soldier to take risks in combat, in spite of the fear of being wounded or dying. In contrast moral courage is the willingness to stand firm on your values, principles and convictions. These traits enable leaders to stand up for what they believe regardless of the consequences,” he said.

The cadets endured three days of Spartan Warrior, and exercise staged at the GDF’s battle school at Tacama, during which they engaged with GDF Officer Cadets in training. They then completed four days on Jungle Fighter “Operation Stay Alive” at JATS. They remain in Guyana for another two weeks and will be taking part in cultural exchange programmes in the Rupununi before departing for the USA.

 

GDF S ESSEQUIBO SAILS BACK HOME WITH FLAGS HIGH AFTER SUCCESSFUL PARTICIPATION IN EXERCISE TRADE WINDS

Ranks and Officers of the Coast Guard who departed for St. Kitts- Nevis on board GDF flagship, the GDFS Essequibo has returned following successful participation in the Maritime phase of Exercise Tradewinds. The crew arrived at the Coast Guard Wharf, Ruimveldt on Saturday morning last.

The crew underwent training in Human Rights, Maritime law Enforcement, Bridge Management, Damage Control and Fire Fighting, Gunnery and First Aid. The Maritime Phase of Exercise Tradewinds then culminated with a three-scenario exercise at sea. Commanding Officer of the vessel, Lt (CG) Adrian McLean explained that the exercise at sea tested the contingent’s navigational skills at night, and their boarding ability in interdiction operations.

“It tested our navigational skills and also our communication skills, to the extent whereby we had to communicate not only with land forces but also surface and aerial assets, because we had an aircraft from the Regional Strategy Office in Barbados that was flying over the area of operation and vectoring vessels onto targets of interest. It was very challenging but I think the ranks enjoyed it and were able to achieve all the objectives of the exercise,” he said. He further stated that the exercise operators were very pleased with the performance of the Guyanese team.

Lt (CG) McLean and team received a plaque from the Commander of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace and General John F. Kelly,Commander of United States Southern Command; both of whom commended the Guyanese contingent on their excellent performance.

The ranks, many of whom were on such an exercise for the first time, took well to the training and exposure they received. “I think they enjoyed the exposure and experience of having represented the GDF Coast Guard. The seas were a bit rough but they showed a lot of enthusiasm and in terms of training, it was really well received. The instructors there ensured that the atmosphere was ideal for proper assimilation,” said. Lt (CG) McLean.

To ensure that this training benefits the other CG ranks, Lt (CG) McLean stated that training material has been collected to foster a retraining exercise.

The contingent arrived on Saturday May 30. The Maritime phase of Tradewinds 2015 was hosted by the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force from May 31 to June 9 with over 750 participants from 17 different countries, including the USA, Canada, the Dutch Caribbean and the Dominican Republic

The aim of Exercise Tradewinds is to help Caribbean nations to be better able to counter land and maritime security threats such as human smuggling and the trafficking in illegal weapons and ammunition. 

Commander in Chief charges new soldiers to live by the Values and Standards of the GDF

Congratulating some 270 new soldiers, Commander in Chief, His Excellency Brigadier (ret’d) David Granger, charged them to live by the Values and Standards of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).  He emphasised that the lessons learned during their training are embodied in a little green book entitled the Values and Standards of the GDF.

“The five core values of  soldiering are duty, discipline, identity, integrity and loyalty. The Standards are responsibility; respect for the Law and others, particularly other citizens and the vulnerable; correct conduct, in and out of uniform, and appropriate social behaviour,” These, he said, summarise the principles of the GDF.  “The booklet was designed as a pocket book to fit into your left breast pocket. It must stay with you throughout your career. You have chosen to serve Guyana, not to serve yourself, your religion, your race, your family or your community! You will serve the entire country! You have not trained to be a lone ranger and you will not serve alone, but as a collection: either as a section, a platoon, a battalion and so on,” he said.

The Commander in Chief explained that, although weapons, barrack rooms and food are important considerations in successful military life, it is the moral forces: attitude, conduct, belief that were most important.  “Team spirit is most important. When you breach the values and desecrate the standards, team spirit is broken. Breaching the code alienates you and you become a lone ranger. What matters is your attitudes, belief, conduct and education!” “There are certain qualities that you as soldiers must have. The first is intelligence. You must have the ability to acquire knowledge and skills and develop the capacity to learn and to reason. The second is industry: you must learn to work hard. That is why this training school is located here in this environment. Military service is meant to be tough. Only the tough have survived this course!” he observed. “You must also have endurance. The GDF is not a place for quitters! You must demonstrate endurance. Twenty years from now, most of you may not be in the GDF, some may meet retirement age. But as long as you serve, you must never forget! Never forget the lessons, nor your squaddies, nor your oath of allegiance! Wherever you go, never forget! Be the best you can be! This is an opportunity for you to grasp the bounty of education! You must want to acquire education. GDF is an excellent schoolhouse. Seize the opportunity to acquire education! If you have no ambition, then this is not the place for you.”

The Commander in Chief urged the soldiers to “...learn, lead and live life to its fullest in this just career that you have embarked upon!”

The CinC also presented the awards to the soldiers who had excelled. Private (PTE) Quacy Fraser was awarded Best Graduating Student, while the PTE Carl McKenzie was awarded the Runner Up spot. The award for Best Fitness went to PTE Marvin Datson, with Best Drill going to PTE Orandy Dawson, Best Shot to PTE Ivor Daniels and Best Military Knowledge going to PTE Jamal Johnson.

Training for this, the first Basic Recruit Course for 2015, was conducted with one cohort at the Colonel John Clarke Military School (CJCMS) at Tacama, and a second cohort at Base Camp Seweyo.