Guyana seeks “comprehensive” help from India to reorganise, modernise GDF
The Guyana Government is looking to reorganise and modernise the country’s Defence Force and is turning to India for comprehensive assistance.
While this engagement is in the early stages, President Dr Irfaan Ali has disclosed that technology and capacity building, especially in the aviation field, is Govt’s top priority needs.
The Head of State made these remarks during a recent interview with India’s NDTV in which he pointed out that both Guyana and India are looking to further expand their bilateral ties in a number of sectors.
Locally, however, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in Guyana noted that help was being sought to strengthen and modernisation the country’s army.
“We have to reorganise and modernise our military. And part of the discussions with Prime Minister [of India Narendra] Modi is how we can build a partnership through which India can support this modernisation of our military – the equipment and needs of our military,” the President stated.
According to the Guyanese leader, there is a mutual excitement shared with Prime Minister Modi on expanding the partnership between the two countries.
“As a matter of fact, we are moving so quickly that we have agreed to set up a technical working group. From the side of Guyana, we are putting Ministers to co-chair those technical groups so that we can remove the bureaucracy and we can advance the work in all the areas I’ve identified very quickly,” he added.
On this note, President Ali has disclosed that he has expressed a strong desire to have the Indian Prime Minister visit Guyana sometime this year to not only follow up on these discussions but also “solidify and concretise” many of the initiatives.
The Head of State revealed that his invitation was received favourably by PM Modi, whom he said is “working on ensuring this happens very quickly”.
Already, several military officers from the Guyana Defence Force have benefited, while others are currently undergoing training in India including academic development.
President Ali stated that Guyana is also looking to tap into the capacity-building expertise of India in the aviation sector as well as in technology.
“We are looking at many things. One is technology; one is weapons, and we are also looking at the aviation side. India has developed tremendous capacity and capability in military equipment, hardware and technology, and training on the aviation side.”
“So, it is a comprehensive package that we would like to discuss with India. But as I said, this is in the very early stages and in another few weeks, we will have a broader understanding and agreement as to what this partnership would look like,” the Commander in Chief noted.
India is the world’s third-largest military power. Only last May, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa committed his country’s willingness to help Guyana strengthen its security capabilities by providing scholarships for GDF officers.
In 2021, the Government of India for the first time provided 19 scholarships which saw local soldiers undergoing various military training in India. Of the 19 scholarships, 10 were allotted to army ranks, five to the Air Corps, and the rest to the Coast Guard. Those scholarships were offered under the Indian Government’s Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).
Dr Srinivasa had told Guyana Times that from mid-2022 to this year, the Indian Government will be increasing the number of military scholarships from 19 to 28.
In fact, only in October 2022, GDF Corporal Trevon Jeffers travelled to India to participate in a course that is part of the ITEC training programme.
Corporal Jeffers was slated to engage in NCOs Transport Supervisory Course (NTSC) at the ACS Centre & College for a period of two months.
This followed the selection of another GDF rank, Corporal Deron Jermin Harvey, for the Young Bandsmen Course at Army Education Corps Training College and Centre in Pachmarhi, India. Harvey is currently participating in this course, which runs from August 10, 2022, to June 20, 2023.
Since taking office, the Commander-in-Chief, President Ali, has openly committed to providing increased training for the GDF, Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Fire Service (GFS), and Guyana Prison Service (GPS) ranks.
Over the years, GDF ranks have benefitted from various military training such as emergency medical evacuation, marksmanship, medical evacuation, recovery response, search-and-rescue, and engineering. GDF ranks have also been sent on exchange programmes in the United States and Caribbean countries.