General John F. Kelly, along with a full entourage, is visiting Belize for the first time since he was elected as the commanding officer for the United State’s Southcom, in November of 2011. For those who might not have heard of Southcom, it is a joint military organization that works towards national and international security and stability within the Western Hemisphere in close collaboration with domestic and international partners within Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Belize, dwarfed by the size and power of the US is honoured to be a member of this long international stride. Earlier this evening, at the National Police Training Academy, Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of Security and currently the Acting Prime Minister, Welcomed General Kelly to Belize and highlighted some of the main accomplishments of Soutcom in Belize.
Hon. John Saldivar – Minister of National Security
The Coast Guard programs that are ongoing include the US Navy Seals Selection Course for which graduation ceremony is scheduled for September 25. The BDF equally sees a number of programs and initiatives that are designed to strengthen our human resource and equipment capabilities; US Marine Forces, South Reverine Training Team is presently conducting training with the BDF in Punta Gorda and is expected to be up there until the 14th of this month. Elements of that same unit are also conducting Intelligence Training for members of our various security forces. Recently, the BDF acquired seven military vehicles known as the J8 and I understand that two Reverine Metal Shark vessels will very shortly be added to the BDF fleet. The US Southern Command recently completed construction of the Joint Operations Centre Building at Price Barracks which will no doubt strengthen our security forces inter-agency efforts. I was told that plans are in place for Exercise Fused Response, which is an exercise with US Special Operations Command South, to take place in Belize in 2014, and a joint taskforce Bravo is partnering with our security forces, in our anti-narcotic efforts.
General Kelly explained to the media how this partnership works.
General John F. Kelly:
I have no plans for Belize, it’s what Belize wants from US Southern Command, in a partnership that we can move together to fight some of these cancers. I think what we saw and what we have seen in the past in the partnership between the United Sates and this country focuses on small units, temporary units at the request of the government to come down and do certain things, certain training. I was down in the southern part of the country and saw a very small number of U.S Marines and a small part of the U.S. Navy working with the river unit that is there doing basic soldier and marine skills that they have asked us to help them with. And in the course of the conversation one of the things that came up is my medical people suggested to the general that perhaps in the future we could come down with additional medical personal more about combat or in the field type medicine. Whatever the government wants, whatever we are requested to d, we will provide in temporary small units tailored to what the V.D.F or the Coast Guard want. No matter how big or small a country is crime is a cancer that eats away at the soul of a country. There is no country that I know of that supports things like human trafficking to trafficking in women for sex purposes, drugs no country I know of supports that so any country regardless of what their political system is that wants to work with the U.S against these terrible cancers. They are partners of ours and this go beyond political agreements or disagreements or whatever.
General John F. Kelly:
These illegal businessmen in the drug trade will find ways around that, push it perhaps further north directly into Mexico. That’s one possibility. Another possibility is to push it further north than Honduras and Guatemala, and that’s where you are. So my theory is, if Belize doesn’t effectively pay attention to the maritime routes, as well as the overland routes, you could find yourself as more that just a trans-shipment point for drugs.
It is safe to say that with that the nation of Belize is grateful for the assistance that the US has provided in the past and will continue to provide through this partnership.