Feb 12, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – As he unveiled the country’s National Defence Policy, President Irfaan Ali, proclaimed yesterday that Guyana will not be a “pawn or puppet” of any foreign power when it comes to the establishment of military bases on its shores.
“No foreign power will establish any military bases on our soil. But we will exercise our sovereign rights to choose our friends and to enter into agreements which will enhance our defence force’s capabilities and our people’s development,” the President said.
President Ali was at the time, making his inaugural address to the Annual Officers’ Conference (AOC) of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), held at the National Cultural Centre.
He outlined that the policy is tailored to enhance civilian and military connection, improve soldiers’ welfare and to fortify the country’s defence line through the acquisition of aircrafts and marine vessels, while cultivating international relations.
The policy is also geared to revolutionize Guyana’s defensive approach, based on a commitment to fraternal relations at home and with other states. And while the country is capable of resisting aggression, he added, “Our first resort will always be to seek a peaceful resolution to any dispute.”
“We are keen on promoting good-neighbourly relations,” President Ali stated. “We avoid belligerence in all forms. Guyana has no expansionist ambitions. We covet no one’s territory or resources. Our defence policy will be guided by our desire for peace and in pursuit of protecting our national patrimony and deterring external threats and acts of aggression.”
But despite the hope for amicable relations, President Ali pointed out that Guyana’s military service will be equipped to defend Guyana’s sovereignty.
“While we are a peaceful State, no one should underestimate our resolve at protecting our territory and safeguarding national sovereignty. Let not our peaceful intent be mistaken for weakness. As I said recently, we will not bend to threats nor cower in the face of intimidation,” he outlined.
With that said, the Head of State announced plans to recapitalize the GDF to focus attention more on Guyana’s borders. To do that, he added, the Force will benefit from the acquisition of equipment, aircraft and marine vessels, which will allow it to exercise improved surveillance over Guyana’s territory and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Added to that, the President highlighted that one key pillar of the policy is aimed at improving the well-being of GDF members and their kin. That includes the provision of scholarships and training opportunities for ranks along with the launch of a special housing programme.
The policy will also promote measures to ensure that ranks are provided for after retirement.
Moreover, the National Defence Policy will see greater involvement of the GDF in search-and-rescue operations, disaster response, the provision of infrastructural services, the defence and protection of border communities, medical outreaches, response to medical emergencies and in coaching and honing the talents of the Force’s athletes.
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