Last Updated on Friday, 25 September 2015, 14:39 by GxMedia“War” was the collective response by hundreds of soldiers Friday morning when they were asked “Ready for what?” By Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier Mark Phillips at a Battle Muster at Base Camp Stephenson, Timehri.
He quickly reminded them that their task was to “define aggression on our borders.”
Phillips told Demerara Waves that such a task includes monitoring the border to ascertain troop movement and report back to the military high command. That information is eventually transmitted to the civilian authority. He said if there is an incursion Guyanese soldiers could arrest opposing military personnel.
He shied away from questions about possibly seeking or receiving military help from overseas, saying those are matters best dealt with through diplomacy by the government.
Among the contingent of soldiers were several females dressed in battle fatigues and carrying heavy assault rifles. Woman Lance Corporal Latoya George said she is ready to leave her two children behind to be deployed to the Guyana-Venezuela border “As a mother it’s difficult but as a soldier we plan to protect and serve so you got to give up somethings at times; it’s not easy but you make a sacrifice when you become a soldier,” she said.
The Chief of Staff reiterated that the Guyana-Venezuela border was settled by the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award. “So as far as I’m concerned, as far as you are concerned it’s a settled border. Isn’t that so? The soldiers responded “yes sir.”
He pointed out that the Cuyuni River “belongs to us” and is part of the Guyana-Venezuela boundary. “It’s important that we don’t only monitor acts of incursion on the land but also what takes place in the river.”
They responded with gusto when asked whether thet were ready to define aggression and defend Guyana.
The Chief of Staff expressed satisfaction with the countrywide mobilisation of Guyanese troops ahead of a route march Saturday morning to demonstrate to the public that they are operationally ready.
Woman Lance Corporal George and her colleagues assured Guyanese “if the war comes, we are ready, we are all prepared.
“Just be calm, don’t be afraid, we got this,” they said.
George, who has been a member of the GDF for the past five years, says at her first military life was challenging for her because she had not been that physically fit.