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Brigadier George Lewis bids the GDF farewell

President and Commander-in-Chief Brigadier David Arthur Granger, Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Moses Nagamoo

too, distinguished members of the Defence Board, former Presidents – Donald Ramotar and Bharrat Jagdeo, and Samuel Hinds, Ministers of the government, former Ministers of government, members of the Diplomatic Corps, my wife Albertine and children Akeem and Akeila, my Aunts – Joan, Florence and Alma, my brothers, sisters, and other close relatives, Chief of Staff Brigadier Patrick West and Mrs Margaret West, former Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff and Inspector  General Colonel Nazrul Hussain, Quartermaster General Colonel Paul Arthur, Adjutant General and Commandant Guyana People’s Militia Colonel Gary Beaton, other Officers - past and present- of the Guyana Defence Force; Military Attaches from friendly countries, Force Sergeant Major, former Force Sergeant Majors, Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers both serving and retired, soldiers, civilian members of the Guyana Defence Force, friends and well-wishers, good afternoon.  Welcome to the Change of Command parade for Brigadier Patrick West and I. Thank you all for being here today!

Before I go further, permit me to extend a special welcome to the Deputy Commander of the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Lieutenant General De Salvo, who is currently visiting Guyana and has decided to grace this activity with his presence.  Welcome to you General, and thank you for being here.
 
Today marks the culmination of my military service.  Today brings to an end thirty-five years four months and 10 days of service with the Guyana Defence Force and the nation of Guyana.  Today is the last time I will be addressing this gathering of distinguished individuals assembled here, or rather, any other gathering in the uniform of the Guyana Defence Force.  Today, for me, also is a day of reflection and giving thanks.
 
As I reflect on my service, I have sweet and bitter feelings: sweet, because as I retire from this noble organisation after completing a successful career, I do so realising that my leadership and guidance contributed to the development of many young men and women within the Force and I witnessed the transformation their lives.  Bitter, because as I go, I am leaving so many of my friends and Comrades-in-Arms behind: friends and Comrades-in-Arms who supported and helped me along the way.  But that is one of the mysteries of life, we all must move on.
 
 
My time is up, and so I must move on and give the opportunity to a younger generation. I do so, without any regrets since I believe that I have served well. I have ascended the through the Guyana Defence Force’s Officer Corps from the lowest rung to the highest level from which I nor retire. As I continue to reflect and reminisce, I recall being commissioned by the late President and Commander in Chief, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, on this said Parade Square, on August 25th 1982, some thirty-four years ago. Marching behind President Burnham was a young Colonel David Granger. Colonel Granger was later promoted to Brigadier, retired from Guyana Defence Force, became a politician, ran for elections, won, was sworn in as President, and later appointed me last October, as the ninth Chief of Staff of the GDF.
 
Your Excellency, thank you for overseeing the early part of my career and for appointing me as the Chief of Staff.  When I became the ninth Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force history was created; for it was the first time that a son of New Amsterdam, moreover, a son of Region Six - and I believe, a son of the Ancient County, Berbice, was appointed Chief of Staff.  I acknowledge the contributions of all the teachers, relatives, friends, acquaintances, and residents of Berbice who contributed to my development, and those for whom my appointment was a source of pride.    
Your Excellency, I also wish to thank you again; this time, in your capacity as Chancellor of the Orders of Guyana, for conferring upon me, a few short months ago, the Military Service Star, the highest military award an Officer can acquire, for military service.   Thank you, Your Excellency.
    
As I continue to reflect, I recall the efforts of the staff of the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School, who worked tirelessly, and yes, I mean tirelessly, to make a nineteen year old from New Amsterdam, Berbice, who lacked previous military training, into an Officer. No names are necessary – you know yourselves. Thank you!
  
Today, I also recall Lieutenant Colonel Fitzroy Griffith, my first Commanding Officer, who, in his own not so easy manner, helped to nurture me. Along with the other Officers and Ranks of the then 1 Artillery Battalion, he made meaningful contributions to my early development as an Officer.  Thank you, gentlemen.
  
At this stage, I would like to formally recognise my predecessors, Major Generals Norman Mc Lean, Joseph Singh and Michael Atherly, Brigadier Edward Collins, Rear Admiral Gary Best, and most recently, Brigadier Mark Phillips.  Without the advice and guidance of you gentlemen, I may not have been here, today.
 
Let me also thank the Officers, Warrant Officers, Senior non-Commissioned Officers, Other Ranks and civilians - both present and past - of the Guyana Defence Force, for allowing me to serve you as an Officer, and recently, as your Chief of Staff. I also thank you for your support over the years.
 
I also wish to thank the community of Veteran’s for their support throughout my career.      
Gratitude must also be expressed to members of organisations, both local and foreign, military, para-military and non-military, with which the Guyana Defence Force daily interacts.  In no small way, you assisted the Guyana Defence Force and I, to execute our mandate.  Thank you.
 
Further, and by no means least, I wish to thank the members of my immediate family – my wife Albertine, and my children Akeem and Akeila – who had to contend with me being away, sometimes for long periods, in the service to my country.    I know it was not easy, so I thank you for supporting me despite the pain you felt. To my extended family, I express my sincere gratitude to each and every one of you for supporting me over the years.
My thanks too, to the members of my personal staff, my Aide De Camp, my Personal Assistant, my chauffeurs, my secretaries and to the attendants.  You performed miracles in order to make my work easy.  Thank you.
 
During my time as Chief of Staff, though short, we had to deal with some very, very difficult and challenging issues. There were issues regarding regimentation, deviant behaviour which sought to tarnish the image of this noble institution, and issues which challenged our ability to effectively satisfy our mandate of providing national territorial defence and security. I believe that under my leadership, the Force acquitted itself well and that we are better off today. My thanks too, to all Officers, dedicated soldiers and civilians, for your contributions towards making the Guyana Defence Force a better place. I am proud of you.
  
Your Excellency, you have pledged, along with the members of the Defence Board, to keep our Defence Force strong and of the highest quality. I cannot tell you how much that means to each and every one of us in uniform; to know that we have that kind of support and that kind of commitment from our civilian leadership. On behalf of all of the members of the Guyana Defence Force, I thank you for that pledge.
    
As I continue to reflect on my career, I realise that I was most fortunate to be in command of troops, for most of it. What I loved the most was the opportunity to interact with our soldiers, to share their thoughts, to listen to them, and generally, to mentor them. My experience was that they always had things to say, which caused one to learn something new; so much so, that today, I am forced to reflect on the words of General Colin Powell and I quote: “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. In either case it is a failure of leadership.”   That has never happened to me, and I exhort all you serving Commanders to work assiduously to ensure that your soldiers never lose confidence in your ability to lead them. I implore each and every Commander to listen to his/her soldiers.  Do not let them stop bringing their problems to you and do not let them loose confidence in you. Remember that soldiers can also think and they have ideas of their own. Reflect if you will, on the words of Orson Scott Card, who said, and I quote: “Soldiers can sometimes make decisions that are smarter than the orders they've been given.”  That is the reality of the situation; so Commanders, please listen to them.
  
On the subject of Command, I say to you Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers, be there for your soldiers! Do not distance yourself from them and ensure that you address their issues. Commanders, you must always be in a position to advise your soldiers on any matter when required to do so, and if you are unable to do so, seek counsel from your superiors. Never trivialise the problems of your soldiers, for their problems are as critical to them as yours are to you!
 
On the issue of Character, I say to all Ranks of the GDF: in your career, you will make mistakes. The true test of your character is your ability to correct those mistakes, deal with their consequences, and grow from those mistakes. There was never a successful military commander, including myself, who never made a mistake and was punished for it. The difference between the successful and unsuccessful commanders, is what they do after the mistake; how they overcome it and the corrective action they took.
 
I leave this with you the Officers and Ranks of the GDF.  Remember that our Motto is “SERVICE”. Let it be a reminder of what your duty is - Service to your Unit, Service to the GDF, and Service to the nation as a whole. Never forget that! Never ever forget also, that your task is to uphold the Constitution of Guyana, respect the tenet of civilian control of the military, and respect every Guyanese, regardless of their race, colour or creed!
   
Finally, I wish to make two small but important points. First, all Officers and soldiers must accept the opportunities provided by the GDF for self-development and ensure that when it is your turn to leave, as I do today, that you leave better educated than when you initially enlisted. Secondly, always be proud to wear this uniform! There will be times when people in the wider society will criticise this organisation. Whenever that happens, I ask you to lift you head high and perform your duties better and with pride.  Further, whenever that occurs, you should take inspiration from the words of the outgoing First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama, who said: “…When they go low, you go high.” Never bend your heads in shame, but always keep them high and wear our uniforms with pride and dignity. As you do so, follow the rules, regulations, traditions, Values and Standards of this noble institution.
 
Today, I hand over command of the Guyana Defence Force to Brigadier Patrick West.   I congratulate him on his appointment. He too, like me, started his career at Camp Groomes, in the 1st Artillery Battalion, albeit, a few years after I did.  We have always had a wonderful working and personal relationship so I am fully confident of his competence and ability to lead the Guyana Defence Force to even greater heights. I believe he will be an excellent Chief of Staff. He is at the helm of a great military team which includes the Deputy Chief of Staff and Inspector General Colonel Nazrul Hussain, the Quartermaster General Colonel Paul Arthur and the Adjutant General and Commandant of the Guyana People’s Militia Colonel Gary Beaton. I am certain that their combined effort will move the Force forward. 
 
Permit me to be a bit biased; it was Napoleon Bonaparte, a short man like me, who said “…The best Generals are those who have served in the artillery…” so, my handing over the GDF to Brigadier Patrick West may not be accidental for we both are artillery Generals. Coincidentally, Quartermaster General Colonel Paul Arthur also started his career at Camp Groomes, as an Artilleryman. I am confident of their ability to satisfy the mandate of the GDF. I am, therefore, pleased to report to you, Your Excellency and the nation of Guyana, that the Guyana Defence Force will continue to effectively function and satisfy its mandate for the greater good of Guyana. 
 
In this, my last hour in uniform, my heart is filled with gratitude, with love and with thanks for the blessings of family, the blessing of friends, the blessings of military comrades and above all, the unique blessing of being a citizen of this nation who had the opportunity to serve in the military and served diligently.  
 
Once again, thank you all for being here, today.   Your presence made the occasion.
 
I say Goodbye. May God richly bless the nation of Guyana. May God richly bless the Commander-in-Chief and members of the Defence Board and may God bless each and every member of the Guyana Defence Force.
 
I thank you.
 

10 SOLDIERS GRADUATE FROM THE GOVERNMENT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE

Ten members of the Guyana Defence Force graduated on Wednesday December 7, with Certificates and Diplomas as members of the Government Technical Institute Class of 2016.

The soldiers pursued studies in a number of areas including Mechanical Engineering , Commerce , Land Surveying , Data Operations , Refrigeration and Air Conditioning and Furniture Making.

Lance Corporal Natisha Dos Santos who is currently pursuing a Technician Certificate in Building and Civil Construction received an award for the Best Outstanding First Year Student.

Another batch of soldiers will graduate shortly from the Guyana Industrial Training Centre.

The Guyana Defence Force remains committed towards ensuring that its ranks gain access to higher education.
Chief of Staff Brigadier George Lewis congratulates the Officers and Ranks, and encourages them to continue pursuing excellence!

GDF CONTINUES FOREIGN LANGUAGE TRAINING FOR JOINT SERVICE MEMBERS

 

 The Guyana Defence Force Language Department, on Wednesday December ,2016 graduated its second batch of students for 2016 drawn from the Joint Services. Fourteen students received certification at the simple, yet significant ceremony which was held at the Auditorium, Base Camp Ayanganna; five received certification in Portuguese, while nine received certification in Spanish respectively, at the basic level. Seventeen students enrolled at the commencement of the course but three had to withdraw due to work commitments.

The Portuguese graduates are members of the Guyana Police Force. Seven Police Ranks and two members of the Guyana Prison Service received Spanish certification. Both courses were of a 13-week duration.  The content of both courses was geared at developing the students speaking, reading and writing skills at the fundamental level in the respective languages.

Commanding Officer 2nd Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Raul Jerrick, who delivered the feature address to the graduates, commended them and the lecturers for their good work. Lt Col Jerrick noted that learning a second language offered several dividends to an individual and is an asset to their cognitive capacity.   Pointing to scientific research, he singled out some benefits of being bilingual. Among them were the facts that learning another language boosts an individual’s brain power, delays the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease, exposes one to a whole new language structure, makes them more flexible and open to other cultures, and also expands the career potential of individuals.

He lauded the Joint Service members for taking advantage of the opportunity presented to them which in the long run brings benefits to the organizations they serve, and by extension, the Joint Services.

Constable Antonette Gonzalves, attached to the Central Immigration and Passport Office, received the Best Graduating Student Prize for Spanish. She noted that she was initially unwilling to participate in the course, but eventually gave it due consideration and decided to enroll. “Now I consider this one of the best decisions I have made . The lecturers were very good and we all enjoyed the course. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning and so I do not intend to stop here,” she stated.  

Corporal Roshanna Beete, a former Immigration Officer attached to Lethem, but now works in the Audit and Inspection Unit of the Guyana Police Force , said that she had earlier interactions with the Portuguese language and this helped her to cop the Best Student – Portuguese prize. She said that she enjoyed the course as it allowed her more intimacy with the language.

The Instructors of the respective courses were Civilians Juan Calzado (Spanish) and Janice Fraser (Portuguese).

The first Foreign Language Course was held in April this year and concluded in June and saw 17 persons graduating. This course is conducted by the Guyana Defence Force and is open to members of the Joint Services.

 

 

 
 
 

GUYANA PEOPLE'S MILITIA OBSERVES MILITIA DAY

The Guyana People's Militia (GPM) observed Militia Day on December 1 last. As part of the activities for the observance, Officers of the GPM appeared on radio and television programmes, where they provided information on the history and development of the Militia, its recent re-establishment, its current programmes, and projections for the future.  
 
On Saturday, December 3, the Officers and Reservists of the GPM participated in Route Marches in Regions 4, 6, and 10.
 
GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier George Lewis, took the salute as the Region 4 Parade marched past on Irving Street. He also delivered the feature address to the troops following their assembly on the Sports Ground at Base Camp Ayanganna.
 
In Region 6, the Platoon on parade was commanded by Lieutenant Jermaine Watson. New Amsterdam's Mayor,  His Worship Kirt Wynter took the salute at Theatre Alley on Main Street, while the assembled ranks were addressed by Reserve Officer, Major Manesh Seeram.
 
Meanwhile, Linden's Mayor, His Worship Carwyn Holland, took the salute as the Militia contingent marched past. The troops were later addressed by Reserve Officer, Major Valmiki Singh.
 
This is the first observance of Militia Day since the re-establishment of the Guyana People's Militia on December 1, 2015.

15 COMPLETE SMALL BOAT COURSE

One Officer and 14 Ratings of the Coast Guard completed the Small Boat Course on Friday December 2. The four-week course, hosted at the GDF Coast Guard was conducted by members of the US Coast Guard.

Training focused on enabling the students to develop the capability of operating in small teams, for boat operations in the riverain areas. Course participants were exposed to modules which included Search and Rescue Fundamentals, Navigation, Seamanship, and Damage Control, and they also engaged in several practical sessions using the Metal Sharks.