Commander –in –Chief President David Granger Friday morning declared that the military service in Guyana is being transformed, as he witnessed the ‘final attack” of troops training in various warfare simulations of battle.
“This exercise and this training course are very important. They are important because they signify the rite of passage of the people who are called upon to defend this country. We have challenges to face in Guyana and the biggest challenge is the security of our borders. This exercise is an exercise dedicated to ensuring that Guyana is ready to protect its borders and this is something that you must never forget,” the President, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).
This exercise, called “IRONWEED”, is just one of several undertaken by the Head of State to reinforce the need for tighter border security following the recent discovery of the abandoned twin-engine Beechcraft aircraft on an illegal airstrip in Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo and another abandoned aircraft in September 2016, just miles away from the area.
In addition to this simulation exercise, the Force is currently engaged in two major operations; ‘Operation Clean sweep’, which is aimed at recapturing the four prison escapees still on the run and ‘Operation AXEL’, which is focused on border deployment and protection.
To demonstrate its commitment to the protection of the Guyanese citizens and the country’s assets, President Granger said that the Government and the Defence Board have been working with the GDF to ensure that the steps are taken to equip the service members with the tools that they will need.
The President said that the Government is re-establishing the Guyana People’s Militia in every region across the country since it believes that more vigilance is needed, particularly in the border locations.
“One of the things that we have embarked on already is to ensure that the People’s Militia is trained and deployed to every region. Every region will have a company or a battalion of the People’s Militia. I have also asked the Chief of Staff to consider converting the coastal battalion to a border battalion so that we can deploy more troops on the borders and internally. I have also asked him to consider the reintroduction of mounted troops so that every graduate of the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School and the Colonel John Clarke Military School, who choose to do so will leave their training course able to ride horses to conduct patrols in the hinterland of Guyana,” he said.
President Granger also reviewed a display of new field equipment, which has been acquired by the Force. This included a combat support field medical hospital and communications apparatus.
Lieutenant Commander Roger Nurse, who briefed the President on the communications apparatus, said that the ranks and officers of the Force were better equipped this year while they were in operational mode due to the acquisition of the new equipment. Additionally, the Force was able to utilise its collapsible drone to conduct aerial reconnaissance, during the exercise.
Meanwhile, Major Natoya Fraser, a physician at the Force’s Medical Corps, provided the President with a tour of the new field hospital. Major Fraser said that during the exercise, she was able to treat all injuries including lacerations from that facility. The field hospital also boasts a well-equipped dentistry, which can provide services such as the extraction, cleaning and filling of teeth.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who serves as the Secretary to the Defence Board explained that this year, the Army has been better equipped as the Government is working with local and international partners to build capacity and strengthen security.
Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Patrick West said that the lessons of Exercise ‘IRONWEED’ must be utilised to further improve operational efficiency.
Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief congratulated the troops of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), who participated in the two week-long Field Tactical Exercise (FTX) ‘IRONWEED’, noting that the exercise has served to reaffirm and reassure the Defence Board and the people of Guyana, that the Force is always ready to fulfil its mission to protect Guyana’s territorial integrity and is in a state of preparedness for any security threat, which may arise, even as Government continues to make significant investments in re-equipping the Force.
The Head of State made these comments after witnessing the ‘final attack’, along with acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams, Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Patrick West and other senior officers at the Colonel John Clarke Military School (CJCMS), Tacama, Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice (Region Ten). The exercise commenced on August 11, 2017 with the final contingent of troops moving into the Exercise Area located in the jungle and savannahs of Tacama, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six). The exercise is designed to assess the GDF troops in Close Country Warfare (CCW) and Open Country Warfare (OCW) simulations of battle.
Exercise IRONWEED follows last year’s successfully completed Exercise HOMEGUARD, which was conducted at the same location. These Exercises are all part of the continuous training for the Officers and Ranks of the GDF, and are also designed to enable them to test theories and develop new strategies related to how OCW and CCW can best be executed.