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The Guyana Defence Force continues to be active regarding soldiers who go Absent Without Leave (AWOL). Force policies and regulations regarding this phenomenon are managed through collaborative efforts of the Force’s G1Branch which has direct responsibility for human resources management (HR), and the Force’s various Units.

When a soldier goes absent, the first point of action is the soldier’s Unit where the Commanding Officers initiate action to contact him/her; this includes visits to soldiers’ homes. Such contact is first to establish whether or not soldier is physically safe and then to ascertain the reason for the soldier’s absence. In most cases, the soldier returns to his/her Unit and, following the relevant interviews and hearings, disciplinary action is taken as necessary.

Soldiers who go absent for more than 21 days, are deemed to have deserted. Cases of desertion are directly administered by the Force’s Defence Headquarters which then directs action to find the soldier. When these soldiers are found, they are brought back to the force and, as is the case with soldiers who have been AWOL, are charged. The relevant hearings are conducted and disciplinary actions instituted against them.

The AWOL phenomenon is not unique to the Guyana Defence Force, and one which has dogged the administration of the Force, over several decades. The Force’s administration remains committed to taking firmer steps to deal with the issue. In this regard it is revisiting quality of life issues for its Officers and Other Ranks. The GDF acknowledges that the welfare of soldiers is an essential component in the maintenance of the morale of our troops; and, as such, it has established a welfare policy which gives clear guidance on responsibility and authority for welfare matters. The welfare policy provides guidance for the correct courses of actions aimed at ensuring the well being of all Force personnel.

The Force continues to embrace various interventions aimed at the retention of its personnel. To this end, it continues to provide an array of benefits to its members including, opportunities to further their education both locally and abroad, the provision of annual incentives in recognition of outstanding performance, as well as awarding soldiers with military medals such as the Military Efficiency and Border Defence Medals.

The Guyana defence Force remains committed to its duty to serve and will continue to do all that is necessary to provide opportunities for Guyanese who seek careers in the military to come and grow with us and become successful.