(GuyanaChronicle)PRESIDENT, Dr Irfaan Ali expects defence officers to lead with integrity, discipline and dedication to ensure the safety and stability of the nation on land and at sea.
In a solemn and symbolic ceremony at the Guyana Defence Force’s Commissioning Parade for Standard Officers Course #54, the Head of State addressed the newly commissioned officers, underscoring the immense responsibility that comes with their roles within the Defence Force.
In a country where the security of land and marine resources is of paramount importance, the President highlighted the need for a professional, steadfast, and forward-looking force.
“The mantle of leadership must remain steady. There must never be a vacuum or void in the leadership structure. Lines of authority must be clear and understood. The first leadership must remain poised and ready to confront contemporary challenges,” President Ali declared with conviction.
He acknowledged the evolving challenges facing the defence force in Guyana and the wider region. With geopolitical dynamics shifting and security threats constantly changing, the new officers were reminded of the pivotal role they will play in safeguarding not only the nation’s territorial integrity but also its marine resources.
“Our wealth, the security of our marine resources, is just as vital as that of our land base resources. Effective leadership is the only means by which we can ensure the safety of these resources,” President Ali asserted.
The President said that the officers are tasked with embracing the nation’s commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and peaceful cooperation with neighbouring countries, while also ensuring Guyana’s preparedness to defend itself against any potential threats.
“Your success is about how you take this training forward. It is about your loyalty to this institution and your country. It is about your commitment to this institution and your country. It’s about your commitment to the rule of law. It is about your commitment to the upholding of our democratic principles and values. It is about your commitment to the oath that you will take. Your commitment to putting your country first. Your commitment in giving more of yourself, selflessly for your country and people,” President Ali said to the officers.
He reiterated the importance of discipline, not just in a military context, but also in personal conduct and representation.
“Your responsibility remains the same in and out of uniform, your life and your example will impact the level of respect and regard extended to you, your family, and the institution you represent,” the President remarked.
President Ali touched on the broader context of Guyana’s defence strategy, as he emphasised the nation’s commitment to maintaining civilian control over the military and fostering stronger connections between the defence force and local communities.
He also pointed out the ongoing modernisation efforts within the force, aimed at enhancing its capabilities and preparedness for various scenarios such as search and rescue operations, disaster response, infrastructural development, safeguarding border communities, addressing medical emergencies and supporting the development of sport and wellbeing of citizens.
The Commander-in-Chief also stressed the imperative nature of safeguarding Guyana’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty, particularly in light of the ongoing border controversy with neighbouring Venezuela.
The President alluded to the historical context of this dispute, one that harks back to the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899.
“While safeguarding Guyana’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty remains your primary duty… Our stance is one of peace and cooperation with neighbouring and other countries. Those who underestimate our determination to safeguard our patrimony or interpret our commitment to peace as a sign of weakness are making a grave error.
“This is why our drive to establish a professional force remains resolute. This is why a combination of a professional defence force, active defence diplomacy including regional collaboration, serves as our first line of defence against threats and aggression. We will continue to embrace a peaceful approach and place our faith in international law,” he asserted.
President Ali’s address drew the connection between the new officers’ responsibilities and the historical context of Guyana’s border dispute with Venezuela.
The case is currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where Guyana seeks a final and binding judgment affirming the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award. This award, which delineates the land boundary between the two countries, is a cornerstone in Guyana’s claim to the Essequibo region.
Against this backdrop of international legal proceedings, President Ali’s emphasis on a professional defence force takes on added significance. The officers were urged to embrace these principles, not just in their professional capacities, but also in their conduct as individuals.
“Leading encompasses setting an example. Not just issuing commands. I implore you to be mindful of the example you set as officers in and out of uniform. Your responsibility remains the same in and out of uniform. Your life and your example will impact the level of respect and regard extended to you, your family, and the institution you represent,” President Ali said.
The President’s address concluded with a resounding call to duty, as he reminded them that as they “pursue a career within the force, opportunities for personal growth and development will be assured.”
Twenty-seven ranks competed the Standards Officers Course #54 with Guyana Prison Service (GPS) topping the course for the first time in history.
Brandon Thomas became the first Prison Officer to graduate as Best Student of the Standards Officers Course, which started some 54 years ago.
Thomas, who joined the Course on August 27, 2021, received the coveted Sword of Honour from President Ali at the passing out ceremony, held at Drill Square, Base Camp Ayanganna.