U.S. to help develop Guyana Defence Force ‘capabilities’
The United States (U.S.) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, Daniel Erikson visited Guyana this week in a move that signals the American interest in bolstering the capabilities of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
Mr. Erikson met Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, other government and security officials including GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan.
A press release from the Office of the President noted that the discussions were based on areas of mutual interest including regional security, food security, climate change, information sharing, narcotics monitoring and disaster risk management.
In an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Mr. Erikson zeroed in on his country’s focus on helping to develop the GDF.
He said the U.S. is interested in the GDF developing “as an institution” that it has the resources to “develop capabilities” to carry out its functions.
“One of the principal ways we’ll contribute is that we have specialised teams that work across the region and those will work with Guyana in the weeks and months ahead,” Erikson said.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence also said the U.S. believes the hemisphere should remain a zone of peace and it intends to “work effectively” with its partners across the region.
Developing the region’s cybersecurity is also a focus.
The GDF is Guyana’s military and over the past few years, its collaborations with regional and international partners have increased. Guyana has been keen on building its defensive capabilities, particularly with increased aggressions from Venezuela.
In December, the United Kingdom (UK) sent the HMS Trent, an offshore patrol vessel, to take part in joint exercises after Christmas. President Ali and Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo clarified that Guyana has no plans for any offensive action against Venezuela but it is keen on developing its defence capabilities.
Before that, in 2021 and 2023, Guyana hosted the ‘Tradewinds’ military exercise where hundreds of troops from several countries participated in training activities.
Mr. Erikson also engaged the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett. Regional security, climate change and the Department of Defense’s engagement in the Caribbean were among the matters reportedly discussed.