President David Granger has outlined a national defence strategy that he believes will bolster the capabilities and abilities of the Guyana Defence Force.
Yesterday the president addressed officers of the Guyana Defence Force to update them on the Venezuelan border controversy and the role of the GDF in protecting the nation’s territorial integrity. The president made it clear that the border issue was settled since 1899 and that will remain Guyana’s position.
He said the Total National Defence policy emphasises the need for all the elements and instruments of national power to be combined to protect our territory.
The army officers were told that the policy will, on implementation, “give our regular and reserve forces the resources they need to perform their mission over the next five years. The long-term objective is to ensure that Guyanese will be able to depend on defence forces, which will ensure the safety of the citizens and the security of the country.”
“Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territory was settled in 1899. Britain and Venezuela, after a series of hostile incidents occurring over a period of years agreed, on 2nd February 1897, to the Treaty of Washington. This provided for the territorial controversy to be submitted to arbitration, the award of which would be a “full, perfect and final settlement”. The evidence presented to the Tribunal by the two sides was based, essentially, on claims to the territories occupied by the Dutch and Spanish, respectively, since Britain and Venezuela became their respective successor states. The Award of the Tribunal was handed down in 1899 and accepted. The boundaries were surveyed and maps were published on that basis by 1905″, the President emphasized.
The President admitted that the GDF will have to be stronger and committed to improving the current numbers of soldiers, the strength of the air corps and also the strength of the marine division.
He said changes are necessary to enable the GDF to fulfil its Constitutional mandate and to perform its functions. According to Mr. Granger, “these changes must be designed to develop the Force’s capability to provide continuous surveillance over Guyana’s air, territorial and maritime borders and approaches, to provide search-and-rescue services to persons in distress and to provide assistance to the civil authority in response to any threat or disaster.”
The president told the officers that Guyana needs a well-commanded, well-trained, well-equipped defence force with the core capabilities to keep citizens safe and secure. He added that The GDF, in order to fulfil its mission must be multi-role, flexible and fully-integrated with sufficient support weapons.
Guyana was recently forced to put its military on high alert following a build up of Venezuelan troops near the Guyana border. Venezuela later pulled back its troops claiming that they were there as part of a drug fighting mission.