The Guyana Defence Force in National Development
TOPIC: THE GUYANA DEFENCE FORCE IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS, SOME PERSPECTIVES. THESIS STATEMENT Positive civil-military relationship is vital for the fulfillment of the role and responsibilities of the military. INTRODUCTION No Organization has all the capabilities, resources and expertise necessary to deal with complex challenges in a comprehensive manner in the twenty first century.
These challenges are often trans-border, e. g. isease, crime, financial and humanitarian crises. They often require domestic and international cooperation and engagement of multiple governments and international organizations to facilitate effective planning and operations in order to coordinate the efforts of multiple civil, military and non-governmental agencies. The foremost traditional role of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as enshrined in the Constitution has been to defend the territorial integrity of Guyana.
Another role of the Guyana Defence Force is to assist the civil power in the maintenance of law and order. The final role is to contribute to the economic development of Guyana when required to do so. In this paper the researcher will show some perspectives of the GDF’s civil-military relations with government and non-government organizations through several units. 1. It is the researcher intention to cover the following areas: a. Civil Defence both locally and in the Caribbean. b.
Disaster relief and search and rescue operations through partnership with the civil Defence Commission and the GDF on land, sea and in air. c. Engineering Corps and its role in national development through state craft partnership. d. Agriculture Corps role in agriculture development and its partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture. e. “Hearts and Minds” operations in rural areas and schools by Medical Corps. f. Air Corps and its support in the area of transportation in the interior location. g. G5 Branch youth development and education.
RESTRICTED Before one can adequately assess the topic and provide cogent arguments in support of the thesis, it is important that key words/phrases be satisfactorily defined. Civil-military may be defined as the relationship between civil society as a whole and the military organization established to defend it. Development may be defined as “to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community”.
The role of the GDF in promoting national development refers to those efforts that the Force can undertake to help communities increase not only the quantitative measures of development (earnings capacity) but also the qualitative measures of development-greater life expectancy and reduced illiteracy. ENGINEERING- “Guyana’s Draft Second Development Plan, 1972-1976 which assigned specific responsibilities, to the Engineer Corps, for the construction of hinterland roads and bridges, the upgrading of airstrips, housing projects for low income earners and projects such as the rehabilitation of the hydro-electric power station at Tumatumari”.
They were also deployed to assist in the construction of a road from Mahdia to Annai in the Hinterland. A Cooperative credit Union and a Housing Cooperative Society were formed to give individual soldiers and officers the opportunity to construct their own homes at state sponsored schemes at Melanie Damishana, Vryheid’s Lust and Crane villages, on an aided self-help basis. ” (National Defence, 74). RESTRICTED This was not lost to the Force administration and is exemplified in the Force’s most recent commitment to engineering projects as detailed in the Stabroek News. Five ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) received keys to new homes at Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo last week as part of a an ongoing partnership between Habitat for Humanity Guyana; the Ministry of Housing and the army to assist ranks with affordable housing. ” Noteworthy is the commitment of government or non-government organizations to have such partnerships with the Force in this sector, as detailed in he same article, “Chairman of the Management Board at Habit for Humanity, Alex Graham remarked that the GDF has the capacity to play an integral role in various aspects of the housing response while pointing out that the army can also help in the building of homes for persons outside the GDF family. ” HEALTH SERVICES- Life expectancy includes access to affordable medical care and all factors that promote a healthy lifestyle. The Force has a rich history of providing medical services to rural and hinterland villages as part of its medical outreaches.
The Force has been impressive in its support to national development in this sector by providing free medical and dental care to thousands of Guyanese. This is not surprising since common to most underdeveloped countries is the lack of capacity to provide quality medical services as you move away from the cities and main towns. This is the case in Guyana and its exasperated by our demographics, terrain in hinterland areas and the lack of adequate transportation facilities to hinterland and rural areas.
The support by the Force in this sector has continued throughout its existence and remains source of kudos as highlighted in the following excerpt from Stabroek News. RESTRICTED “Close to 200 Upper Berbice River residents benefited from dental and general medical care when a team from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Medical Corps hosted an outreach exercise there recently. According to the army, residents said they were grateful for the exercise and expressed the desire for a doctor to visit at least once per year”. Stabroek News Sunday, June 15, 2008.
EDUCATION –The use of military personnel to augment the efforts of the Ministry of Education to provide education at any level and in any area of the country has not been a feature of the Force for any substantive period. Notwithstanding this, one can argue that the efforts by the Force to educate its ranks directly impacts on national development. Since when members of the Force return to civilian life their level of technical and vocational education will have a direct impact on how they are integrated to the countries labour force.
Therefore the Force commitment to educating its ranks underscores its efforts to national development in this sector. However, the efforts of the Force to educate its ranks have had its own challenges. The main challenge was the ability of the Force to establish a system that linked educational development with the evolution of soldier’s careers. “As part of their promotion standards, soldiers are required to attain specified levels of academic education but these standards had to be waived since no formal means existed for upgrading soldiers’ education. The quality and level of success gained in this sector can be improved with better civil- military relations with government and non-government organization. Similar sentiments in regards to the value of these relations were expressed by the Chief of Staff in his 2011 Command Directive. “In 2011, I plan to establish statecraft partnerships with the Ministries of Education and Health. Education is inclusive of literacy-the ability to read and write, as well as primary school enrollment. Stabroek News Tuesday, August 17, 2010. Best G. A.
R Chief of Staff Command Directive 2011, pg 22. RESTRICTED ECONOMIC- “The Agriculture Corps was tasked with the development of farms at Onverwagt in Berbice, Butenabu in Mahaicony, Vergenoegen in Essequibo, and at Garden of Eden in Demerara saw the GDF’s economic contribution. This was short lived due to contraction and restructuring of the Force in the late 80’s. However, the structures (organization) still exist for its reimplementation. Coast Guard through it protection of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) allows for greater yields in sea foods for export.
Also Air Corps providing qualified pilots to augment those in the PAOC when required. ADMINISTRATION- Officers are seconded to administrative positions in ministries and other government agencies and even the other services of the Joint Services. To date officers have served in various positions in the government: Lt Col Fabian Liverpool served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lt Col Jawahar Persaud as Accountant General (ag) Ministry of Finance, Lt Col Brassington Reynolds as Judge Ministry of Legal Affairs, Lt Col Malcom Mc Andrew as Deputy Director of Prisons, Col Lindon
Ross as Coordinator CARIFESTA 10 at Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Col Francis Abrsham as Deputy Director General at Civil Defence Commission. Just to name a few (there are Major’s Monroe and Craig at CDC, Major Baird at Ministry of Agriculture, and 5 other officers who were at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 90’s. both Officers and other Ranks are trained to re enter society where they make the contribution to the country example; Col Ulrice Pilgrim at BARAMA, Col Ross still at Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Major Generals Joseph Singh and Norman Mc Lean at GT&T and OMAI respectively.
In this area it is clearly stated how the GDF contribute to the economic development of this country. AVIATION- Air Corps augment the Private Aircraft Owners Association and can do medical evacuations from Interior Locations, and facilitate the transportation of Good and People to and from interior locations. Air Corps provides local flights at a cheaper cost thereby making it affordable to small businessmen/businesswomen and low income earners to travel to and from the hinterland regions. RESTRICTED This unit makes it possible to access areas particularly where fixed wing aircraft cannot land.
It provides positive civil-military relations by search and rescue operations through partnership with the civil Defence Commission and the GDF on land, sea and in air. The success of the Force involvement in these ventures is commendable, however, the Force was unable to remain committed to such ventures as a single source agency as time progress. This was due to lack of resources; both human and mainly material. Therefore, one can argue that a civil-military relation framework by way of partnership with a government or non-government would have enhanced the Force’s longevity in its commitment to such ventures.
Granger D. A A Brief History of the Guyana Defence Force, 2005 pg75. This demonstrates that there is clear recognition by non-government agencies that good civil-military relations are beneficial to both parties. Further the Force will not be required to singlehandedly seek out and forge these partnership. Fostering this perception of the Force, there remain numerous areas in this sector where the Force, the private sector, and government and non-government organizations can benefit from good relations. No one entity can satisfy the commercial, security and safety requirements for aviation support in Guyana.
The wide expanse of hinterland settlements, the limited aircraft and technically trained personnel suggests that there is room for all stake holders to make a positive impact in this sector. The Guyana Defence Force recognizes and accepts it has a role to play in National Development. This is exemplified in the many initiatives and projects the Force has been involved throughout its existence primarily in Engineering, Health Services, Education, Economic, Administrative and Aviation Sectors. The question of how the Force will be most effective in fulfilling its role of contributing to National Development has been answered.
RESTRICTED The Force must embrace partnership with government and non-government agencies in those sectors where we are poised to make an impact on National Development. This pursuit and ultimate realization of good civil-military relations will enhance the Force capacity to contribute to national development activities. The Maritime Corps was equipped with trawlers and started fishing on a commercial scale. A good civil-military relationship is imperative if the Force is to attempt to fulfill the last of its tripartite role.
This will see the involvement of community groups and the Force working in unison to achieve goals at the national level. Civil-military relations will also allow for the development of both individual and national capacities. Good civil-military relations between the GDF and the country at large will pave the way for both the organization and civil society to learn from each other. Consequentially, the knowledge and on-site training of youths in technical areas could be boosted from the Force’s involvement in community developmental projects.
Former President Jagdeo in his address at the Force’s Re-engineering to Enhance National Defence and Security forum said “The traditional focus of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will have to be shifted to ensure the better use of the country’s resources. ” (Stabroeknews, 11 February 2010). The then commander in chief correctly stated that “traditionally the GDF has been structured to maintain peace at the borders and the territorial integrity of the country” and noted “the country does not anticipate going to war with any of its neighbours and it has not been to war for most of its history. “But you have this huge pool of talented people in the military and we can’t have them wait on a war with our neighbours. ” (Stabroek News, 11 February 2010). While the case for the shifting of the Force’s traditional focus is still being made, and the GDF continues to look for means to show its relevance in today’s society, the GDF has the capacity to play a formidable role in various aspects of development in Guyana through proper partnership between governmental and nongovernmental agencies and the GDF. RESTRICTED
The logistics and human resources needed for the full involvement in national development currently does not exist and as such significantly hamper any attempts by the Force to fulfill this mandate. While the Force does not currently play a grand role in national development, such a role is not alien to the organization. With the right logistics and financial support the GDF can play a role in national development. Conversations with local citizenry and former GDF soldiers would conjure up vignettes of a GDF that was once fully involved in and committed to national development.
Literature and newspapers archive validate these vignettes. This excerpt shows the extent of the Guyana Defence Force involvement in national development. Civil-military relations were the backbone of these developmental projects; often a time GDF sought the assistance of villagers to provide adequate human resources needed for the successful completion of assigned projects. President Jagdeo in his address at the Force’s Re-engineering to Enhance National Defence and Security forum said “The traditional focus of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will have to be shifted to ensure the better use of the country’s resources. (Stabroeknews, 11 February 2010). The then commander in chief correctly stated that “traditionally the GDF has been structured to maintain peace at the borders and the territorial integrity of the country” and noted “the country does not anticipate going to war with any of its neighbours and it has not been to war for most of its history. ” “But you have this huge pool of talented people in the military and we can’t have them wait on a war with our neighbours. ” (Stabroek News, 11 February 2010). RESTRICTED
While the case for the shifting of the Force’s traditional focus is still being made, and the GDF continues to look for means to show its relevance in today’s society, the GDF has the capacity to play a formidable role in various aspects of development in Guyana through proper partnership between governmental and nongovernmental agencies and the GDF. The logistics and human resources needed for the full involvement in national development currently does not exist and as such significantly hamper any attempts by the Force to fulfill this mandate.
While the Force does not currently play a grand role in national development, such a role is not alien to the organization. With the right logistics and financial support the GDF can play a role in national development. Medical Corps can conduct medial outreach to hinterland and hard to access areas of Guyana. This unit can carry its sensitization and education programmes to the schools, NGOs and vulnerable groups and communities. Engineer Corps can construct roads, buildings and bridges.
Finally, Agriculture Corps can develop commercial farms in all counties of Guyana. In concluding, Positive civil-military relations is vital for the fulfillment of the role and responsibilities of the military. The researcher proposes the formulation of a GDF civil-military policy. Also the establishment of a GDF Civil-Military Protocol; currently, there remains no policy or protocol that speaks to civil-military relations for national development.
A civil military policy will comprehensively explain what the GDF intends to achieve through civil- military relations and more importantly, how it intends to achieve its national developmental goals. Creation of a GDF Civil-Military Office is necessary. Having the Force’s civil- military affairs guided under a single office allows for greater management and direction of civil-military affairs. A Force civil-military officer should be identified to lead a civil-military office.
Amongst his/her duties should be the preparation of the civil-military portions of operations and administrative plans and orders, advising the G3 on the Force’s requirement for Civil Military cooperation, dealing with liability claims from civilians, providing advice and assistance to other staff branches in the use of civil labour and local medical facilities and provide assistance as applicable with: population movement control , civil Engineer assistance, procurement of material from local sources and civil logistic assistance, cooperation with local and national authorities on matters relating to civil defence.
It will be critical that the national development agenda be in sync with that of the GDF in order to allow for easier access to funding and resource allocations for national development projects. A clearly defined support structure is necessary in order to ensure the longevity of GDF’s full participation in national development. Guyana Defence Force is an organization which once played a critical role in the national development of Guyana, and in doing so, met and executed its mandate of contributing to the economic development of Guyana. Today, the same cannot be said of the Force.
However, should attempts be made to refocus the Force’s time and resources towards national evelopment, civil-military relations will definitely be an area in need of grave attention. The establishment of a civil-military policy should be the first thing that must be put in place. Formulating a civil-military policy will be necessary to define the scope and modus operandi of the Force. RESTRICTED REFERENCES Best G. A. R. (2010) Career Development Plan Guyana Defence Force. Guyana Defence Force Best G. A. R (2011) Chief of Staff Command Directive.
Guyana Defence Force Granger D. A. (1975) The new road. Guyana Defence Force. (Pg 75) David Granger. National Defence. A brief history of the Guyana Defence Force, 1965-2005. Free Press Georgetown 2005. Free Press. Huntington, S. (1957). The soldier and the state: theory and practice of civil-military relations. Cambridge, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Johnson, J. (1981). The role of the military in underdeveloped countries. Top of Form Naison Ngoma, Civil-Military Relations: searching for conceptual framework with an African Bias. Available at http://www. ssafrica. org/pubs/Books/civmilzambiaaug04/Ngoma. pdf. Accessed Oct. 25 2012. RESTRICTED Stabroeknews. WPA concerned over move to set up intelligence agency. Available at http://www. stabroeknews. com/2010/archives/02/11/wpa-concerned-over-move-to-set-up-intelligence-agency/. Accessed Oct. 30 2012. United Nations Development Programme. What We Do. Availabel at http://www. undp. org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/overview. html. Accessed Nov. 25 2012. Stabroek News Sunday, June 15, 2008. Stabroek News Tuesday, August 17, 2010. 2 p. Chief of Staff of the RE RES