Former Army Chief Bess to serve in President’s Defence Diplomacy Unit
By Kurt Campbell
Brigadier Godfrey Bess on Friday handed over command of the Guyana Defence Force to a new Chief of Staff Brigadier Omar Khan, alongside whom he served for over 30 years.
But as Bess heads off, plans to fade gracefully into the sunset of retirement have been deterred.
He said, while the occasion marks his retirement from the uniform of the GDF, it is certainly not retirement from service to the people and country.
Bess confirmed that in his new role he will serve, in an advisory capacity, in the Defence Diplomacy Unit being set up by President Dr. Irfaan Ali.
“I’m humbled that you’ve seen it fit for me to continue to serve the people of Guyana in another capacity,” Bess to Dr. Ali said in his farewell address moments before the ceremonial changing of the General’s standard and handing over of the Force colours at Base Camp Ayanganna, Georgetown.
His retirement leave ends in December 2023 but he is expected to start in his new role before that.
“At 55 [years old] I still feel young. I have energy and if the call is there, it is not about me alone, and I’m prepared to serve,” Bess told reporters.
The former Army Chief said he is happy to support the President’s vision in this regard.
“It has to do with partnering with likeminded friendly nations to build diplomacy and our first line of defence is diplomacy.
“The President has repeatedly stated that he is interested in peace in this environment, hence that’s the reason.
“Basically, I’ll be in an advisory capacity, I’ll be out of uniform,” Bess explained.
“If you listen to the President, he talks about a new Guyana and how he intends to use experience to bolster the development of the country. That’s a good thing and I will support it,” he added.
But although he intends to work with the government in this regard, he said there is no future in politics for him.
“I do not see myself in politics… and that is it, I do not see myself in politics. I will serve the people of Guyana.
“Many Guyanese given opportunity should take it… experience will guide not deter or affect mobility,” he posited.
Bess was thankful for the support he received in the last three years as Army Chief but moreso the support he has received over the last 33 years in the Force. He singled out former President Brigadier (retired) David Granger for the confidence he reposed on him.
His family was personally thanked for their sacrifices and though he was confirmed as Chief of Staff one day before he heads off into retirement, Bess said he never felt jilted.
“I never one day felt unconfirmed. I was always referred to by his excellency as Chief of Staff, Chief of Staff, Chief of Staff. And during my tenure I enjoyed all the benefits. I never ever felt unconfirmed,” Bess said.
Bess said too that the timing was impeccable since his elderly mother and father were able to witness the moment having been prevented from travelling in 2020 when he took up the role.
And for the new Chief of Staff, Bess had a few words.
“Brigadier Khan has been in the GDF for 31 years. We have worked together. He is very intelligent, competent officer, very strategic and I am sure he will lead the GDF properly.”
Bess career has been fulfilling and he leaves with a Commonwealth Executive Masters in Business Management and a number of military accolades.