Venezuela’s open aggression has backed Guyana against the wall and our leaders need to strengthen our military alliances with big nations and invite them to partner with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to set up military bases and training centres throughout our nation’s western front in areas.
In international affairs, Venezuela is an elephant preparing to charge at a tiny ant. It does not matter that Guyana is right; it is small and vulnerable and simply cannot stand alone in front of the charging elephant. It has no choice but to align itself with powerful military allies.
Guyana can only defend itself effectively by thinking outside the box. It is imperative that our leaders capitalize on our fruitful relations and co-operation with militarily strong nations like Brazil, France and the US to establish a powerful, joint military presence in the Essequibo.
I am not suggesting that we do this casually or irresponsibly. The presence of foreign soldiers on our sovereign land requires the utmost caution; it must be calibrated prudently and calculated wisely to maintain balanced relations based on a profitable exchange of interests.
In this regard, it was very heartening that Guyana recently hosted a delegation from Brazil to renew a bilateral pact defence agreement, which included more than 30 high ranking military officers, including the chiefs of the air force, the intelligence branch and the navy.
I also note that the GDF has provided jungle training facilities to the French military for many years. I recall that in 2016 commanders of the GDF and the French military exchanged medals and stated their intention to reinforce good relations between the armed forces of the two nations.
It is clear that Guyana has already established the groundwork to form strategic military links with Brazil and France. It is time to tighten these connections and work out a prudent arrangement by which they help us to beef up our national security in Essequibo.
Of course, the trump card in this would be to get the United States to join us in setting up joint military facilities in the areas targeted by Venezuela. A US military presence in Guyana would present the most formidable challenge to the Venezuelan threat.
The United States military was also allowed, on more than one occasion, to use our jungle terrain for guerrilla and jungle warfare practice.
The United States now has interest in Guyana, with the discovery of large deposits of oil by the American conglomerate ExxonMobil.
The US military’s Southern Command (known as SouthCom) is committed to control and access to the extensive natural biological, mineral and water resources in South America, and is also involved in operations against suppliers of illegal drugs.
Guyana could engage the US military and offer opportunities to partner with the GDF in setting up joint military bases for training in jungle warfare, plus the preparation and stockpiling of military equipment for their Amazon Basin operations.
Letting the US military liaise with the GDF in western Guyana will send a clear message to Venezuela that the world’s leading superpower is on our side. This would be crucial to Guyana’s national security and might even lead to future beneficial trade deals with the US.
Just having US soldiers in Essequibo is going to provide multiple spin-off benefits above and beyond the deterrent to Venezuela. Imagine the expertise they would impart to the GDF, the anti-crime force they would represent and the commercial windfall they would generate.
During World War II the US army had a military air base at Timehri. Some can still recall the socio-economic benefits of their military presence, the most lasting of which is the solid structural foundation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
In particular, the cooperative security operations to monitor crime and drug trafficking by the GDF and US forces would definitely ensure that sadistic, organised criminal gangs from Venezuela like ‘El Sindicato’ do not spill over into Guyana’s mineral-rich North West district.
Let us offer the US one or two free bases at concessionary rates which they may want to take up due to the American investments in Guyana. This base or multi-military alliance may even embolden the citizens of Venezuela to liberate themselves.
My suggestion that Guyana should approach Brazil, France and the US for protection by way of joint military bases and operations in Guyana should be understood within the context of the persistent and barefaced threat of military aggression by Venezuela.
The training grounds can be viewed as military training units as opposed to military bases.
As Venezuela’s threat continues to cripple our development and undermine our economy, Guyana must not try to fight like a big state. We must act prudently like a small state should and make sure we have some big guns like Brazil, France and the US or all three at our side. This is my humble submission to the government and peoples of Guyana as a way forward.
Roshan Khan Snr.
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