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Guyana Defense Force

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President. Guyana Defense Force number about 2500 people. The army formed two infantry battalions, a security battalion, a special battalion, a support fire camp, and an artillery company.

The Special Service Unit (SSU) began as a constabulary force in 1964. It became the Guyana Defence Force in 1965. Governor Richard Luyt created the SSU to aid the police in maintaining internal order in British Guiana, as the country was then called. The colonial government's goal was for the SSU to evolve into Guyana's army after independence was granted. A British officer, Colonel Ronald Pope, aided by a British military instructional unit, organized and trained the SSU. The Guyanese component of the SSU's officers and noncommissioned officers was drawn heavily from the Volunteer Force, a reserve unit composed predominantly of Afro-Guyanese civil servants. However, officer candidates were also selected from outside the Volunteer Force and trained in Britain. Once training was completed, the Guyanese officers were rapidly promoted and positioned to assume command from the British upon independence. The SSU was renamed the Guyana Defence Force in 1965. The transition to complete Guyanese control of the GDF began in 1966, shortly after independence was granted.

The military service system carries out voluntary military service and also recruits a small number of women. The vast majority of soldiers are African people. The service life is between 15 and 49 years old. Military treatment is more generous than the general civil sector, and enjoy free medical and demobilization work arrangements. The division of labor is small, involving military training, intelligence, logistics services and band playing.

Uniforms are British uniforms, men's uniforms include tropical card jibu shirt and trousers, canvas shorts and red emblem with the national flag. Dress is white dress and dark blue trousers. Female uniforms include a loth coat, trousers with training cap, or card Ji cloth coat, skirt with green berets. Weapons and equipment are mainly provided by the United Kingdom, the United States and the former Soviet Union.

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) was formerly the semi-militarized police force established by the British-Portuguese colonial government in 1891. At present, the number of police officers is 5,000.

The Defence Act Chapter 15:01 (Laws of Guyana), 1977, provides for the establishment of the GDF, its legal responsibilities and terms of service and employment of members. It also determines operational and ministerial responsibilities for the employment of the Force inside and outside of Guyana. Specifically the section provides for “An act to provide for Defence and the maintenance of order by the establishment of a Defence Force and to provide for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.”

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) came into existence on 1965-11-01 when training began under a team of instructors from the United Kingdom. Recruits for the new Force were drawn from the British Guiana Volunteer Force (BGVF), Special Service Unit (SSU), British Guiana Police Force (BGPF) and Civilian Volunteers.

The GDF is very much an integral part of the Guyanese Nation in that it is regularly involved in community tasks, National Development and Emergency Mission whereby use is made of the resources and equipment that are at the GDF's disposal.

For example, the force produces some of its own food through the Agriculture Corps, sew its own uniforms through the Ordinance Corps. The Air Corps is regularly involved in medical mercy flights from hinterland areas. The Engineer Corps has been employed on the construction of hinterland roads and airstrips continuously as in various aspects of nation building in other ways.

The 2009 Organisational Analysis recommended the need for cordial and harmonious relations between the military and the civil administration. Submission to civilian oversight as provided for in the Defence Act, to reduce loss, waste, and improve accountability and transparency within the organisation. The Force also recognises the need to engage the civilian administration in efforts to improve quality of life issues for members of the Guyana Defence Force.

A revisit of the decision to direct all training and employment matters previously dealt with by the Chief of Staff, to the Defence Board, will be considered a positive step in the rebuilding of civil-military relations. More importantly, the regular and continuous interactions between the Commander in Chief and the senior leadership of the Force and partnerships with Government Ministries and other State and non-State actors will enhance this rebuilding process. The regeneration of professional standards and increasing institutional capacity, the establishment of an Inspectorate and a Research and Development Departments which will conduct doctrinal reviews, testing and sampling of kit and equipment, provide advice on procurement, conduct impartial inspections of units along with increased levels of competitiveness among units of the Force will be positive in the context of regeneration of professional standards and increasing institutional capacity.

The expanded role of the Force in supporting national security and law enforcement on the coast and securing waterways will necessitate an enlargement of the Force’s establishment. Increase in the “teeth to tail” ratios of the Force is inevitable and a clear mandate to minimize civilian employment and significantly reduce recruitment of women and re-enlistment of retirees are essential to Force operational expansion. In terms of numbers, it is more than necessary to increase the strength and capability of the Coast Guard and bring existing combat arms, combat support and combat service support units up to their approved strengths. And, on the broader level, establish a second regular infantry battalion to provide for coastal deployment and more effective rotation of troops to tasks.

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Page last modified: 14-05-2017 18:32:53 ZULU