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GDF and US Coast Guards begin joint exercises today

Last Updated on Saturday, 9 January 2021, 10:30 by Denis Chabrol

US Coast Guard cutter, “Stone”

The Coast Guards of Guyana and the United States (US) are Saturday due to begin joint exercises offshore Guyana, four months after the two countries activated the Shiprider Agreement that allows for joint marine and air operations to counter narcotrafficking and other illegal activities.

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) said the US Coast Guard cutter, Stone, which is in the region for a multi-country tour, would be conducting the first in a series of exercises as part of the operationalisation of the 21-year old accord.

The GDF and the American Embassy said this operation would focus on illegal fishing. “This exercise will take place off the coast of Guyana and will focus mainly on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,”  the GDF said.

In a notice to mariners, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) said “the naval exercise area is approximately six nautical miles from the Coast of Guyana, and approximately nine square kilometers.” Mariners  were warned to “stay clear of this area of operation.”

The joint maritime operations comes days before the Commander of the US Southern Command, Navy Admiral Craig Faller visits Guyana from January 11-13. “He will meet with government and defense leaders and discuss the bilateral security partnership between the United States and Guyana,” the American embassy here said.

Head of the US Southern Command, Navy Admiral Craig Faller.

The State Department says the Admiral will also take part in the signing of an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement between the two countries’ militaries, which will pave the way for the exchange of goods or services of equal value to support future bilateral defense cooperation.

During his stay, Admiral Faller is scheduled to meet with President Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Brigadier Godfrey Bess. 

U.S. Southern Command’s top military leader last visited the country in 2017, when Guyana became the first South American nation to host the Caribbean Nations Security Conference.

The United States and Guyana have a longstanding history of security cooperation. The defense partnership between the two countries includes collaboration against regional threats and challenges, capacity-building engagements, bilateral training, expertise exchanges, exercises, and participation in military education programs. During the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit in 2020, the two countries signed a Shiprider agreement which allows for maritime cooperation between the two countries.

The command is one of the Department of Defense’s six geographically-focused unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, as well as security cooperation with defense and public-security forces in the region.