The Belize Defence Force (BDF) has added 81 members to its ranks. The new soldiers passed out at a formal parade at the army’s headquarters in Ladyville. Commander Brigadier General David Jones spoke to the level of training they experienced en route to becoming a part of the nation’s fighting force.
“We have been authorized an additional two- hundred men about a year ago, and we are in the process of achieving that. We are three-quarters of the way and now these recruits that have been training in tactics, field craft, first aid, weapons handling are now going to join the ranks and man the borders and do the patrols that we require them to do for the interest of national security and sovereignty of Belize. Earlier for training, they’re usually up at about 4:00 – 4:30 in the morning doing what we would call fatigues or they will do chores around the camp. After that they would be going for their physical training at least about 5:00 in the morning, they would start running on the road. They do that for about 45 minutes or so and then go for breakfast and then go into classes – depending on what is thought for the day. It is either first aid, tactics, field craft, weapon handling or whatever military discipline they need to learn for that day.”
Minister of National Security John Saldivar spoke to the efforts his Ministry has made to beef up the capacities of the tri-point of national security forces – Police, BDF and Coast Guard.
“ This is addition to 558 police officers, and 156 coast guard officers amounting to a total of 1,062 new personnel who have been employed since 2012. This was done at an approximate cost of 10.6 million dollars. In addition to this, there are some 180 new recruits that are scheduled to commence training at the Police Academy and some 45 being trained by the Belize Coast Guard at their facilities.”
Most of the BDF’s operations have shifted to the border from domestic crime in Belize City. But is the Force prevented from carrying out its duties along the borders in the west and south? Jones outlines the BDF’s terms of reference.
Brig. Gen. David Jones – Commander BDF
The measures primarily address the western portion of the border, from up Arenal down to south where Cadenas is. But it didn’t really specifically address the area of the Sarstoon. which is the southern border with us and Guatemala. But just out of a matter of courtesy, if we are going to do anything similar in regards to the confidence building measures on the west, if Guatemalan patrols are near the border or if Belizean patrols are near the border, we do inform each other. But it wasn’t expressly so for the Sarstoon, however, out of a matter of courtesy, we do consult with each other and we regularly consult with them and we discuss with them about operations happening along the border just to let them know that they are Belizean troops in the Sarstoon. There are a lot of illegal activates that occurs within the Sartsoon, It could be Honduran,, Salvadoran, all the way from South America that illicit activity traverses through the Sarstoon. So, it is only prudent that we talk to each other and try to work together inside the Starstoon. That is what we are trying to achieve with the Guatemalans, to work with them jointly in the Sartstoon because it is in both of our interest.”