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‘We are committed to providing the resources for you to fulfil your duties’ -Minister Harmon commissions two new Islanders for GDF

The two Britten-Norman Islander planes at the GDF Air Corps headquarters, Timehri

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, who also serves as the Secretary to the Defence Board on Thursday said that the Government of Guyana is committed to providing the necessary resources and equipment to the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) so that it can effectively fulfil its mandate as he commissioned two new Islander planes for the Force’s Air Corps, government said in a statement.

Speaking at a simple ceremony held at Air Station London, Timehri, the Secretary of the Defence Board said that the acquisition of the planes are part of Government’s plans for the recapitalisation of the Force as outlined by President David Granger in the ‘Total National Defence Policy.’

Minister Harmon said that it is the President’s vision that Guyana must have a well-commanded, well-trained, well-equipped Defence Force with the core capabilities to keep citizens safe and secured. He noted that the GDF, in order to fulfil this mandate must be multi-role, flexible and fully integrated with sufficient support systems.

“The Total National Defense Policy is designed to give our regular and reserve forces the resources they need to perform their mission. This policy is based on five pillars: personnel, readiness, infrastructure, morale and equipment. A policy is a course or principle action adopted or proposed by a government. A policy is followed by a plan and a plan has to be implemented. All of this has to be driven by interest and the will of the state for there to be concrete action and subsequent success.

In consideration of what I have just stated, this ceremony is therefore strong evidence that the President of Guyana has outlined a policy, a plan is being pursued and is being implemented, part of which is the acquisition of these two aircraft. This ceremony speaks directly to the part of the “Total National Defence Policy’ that specifically addresses the issue of resources. The Guyana Defence force and the Air Corps must be properly equipped to carry out its mandate,” Harmon was quoted as saying in a statement issued bu the Ministry of the Presidency..

Secretary to the Defence Board, Minister of State Joseph Harmon (centre) flanked by officials of the GDF Air Corps, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Immigration Department.

The Minister of State noted that the Government of Guyana will not hesitate to provide the support necessary to ensure that the servicemen and women are fully equipped to uphold the Constitution and protect Guyana.  The aircraft, he said, represent an investment that demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the GDF receives the necessary aviation support required to execute its mandate.

“These aircraft being received today will engage in activities that include ensuring the security and integrity of our borders, the security and integrity of our maritime space, especially with regard to the activities related to the production of oil and gas and anti-piracy efforts, provide support to the resuscitated Engineering Corps of the GDF in its activities with regard to the infrastructural development in the hinterland, promote the policy of equal development and the delivery of public services and bridging the gap between our coastland and hinterland communities and supporting the establishment of a ‘green economy’ and ‘green’ state by monitoring activities in our forest for the control and mitigation of carbon emissions that affect climate change,” he said.

Minister Harmon noted too that it would also assist in the maintenance of the integrity of the country’s protected areas, improve the security and protection of citizens in the hinterland especially indigenous communities, improve relations and the delivery of resources and infrastructure to hinterland communities and facilitate medical evacuations from hinterland communities.

“It will also ensure that our men and women in uniform have the necessary service support. I remember days when I was an Officer and we had to wait days for an aircraft for replenishments in remote areas. We are doing better now so all of our men and women must understand that what we are doing as Government is providing a reliable source of support for them. They must know that there is a chain behind them that is strong and that will provide support. I have been assured that the aircraft are the best suited to our conditions and the objectives to be achieved by the Air Corps in the execution of its functions. I have also been advised that they are the most economical option available to the GDF for the expansion of its Air Corps. I must however urge you, beseech you to take good care of this investment; to care these aircraft; to ensure their proper maintenance and use so that the GDF and the people of Guyana can have the maximum benefit of their investment,” Minister Harmon urged.

Chief of Staff of the Force, Brigadier Patrick West, in his brief remarks, said that in addition to the Islanders, the Force expects to acquire two more Skyvans in the coming months to add to its fleet.

“Words cannot express our profound gratitude over the continued support that produce results such as these. These aircraft, as you were told, will enhance our surveillance capabilities and provide increased support for our forward locations. It is also envisaged that they will provide much needed assistance in administrative and other duties and contribute to the continued support for our civil defence operations,” he said.

Commanding Officer of Air Corps, Commander Courtney Burns said that the Corps play an integral role in the Force’s functions and is therefore inspired that Government has seen it fit to add to its resources.

“Air Corps is indeed inspired by this acquisition and we know this is only the beginning but we are inspired. We are reenergised as we continue to be driven by our motto of ‘Service’. No military can be effective without an effective Air Force. Our mission is to provide aviation support to the Guyana Defence Force. This support comes in the form of 16 tasks, namely search and rescue as required, air borne and air mobile operations,, casualty evacuations, day and night medical evacuation, air transport for troops, platform for tactical operation, surveillance through the country including the Exclusive Economic Zone, disaster relief operations, replenishment plans for those deployed, provide support for government programmes, conduct trainings, conduct anti-piracy, anti-illegal mining, logging and fishing activities, support civil powers and the police, provide internal support operations, conduct counter narcotic operations and cross border operations. These islanders will be directly employed in the conduct of those operations with the exception of one or two,” he said.