Emphasising that India is the world’s third-largest military power, High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa has said that his country is committed to helping Guyana strengthen its security capabilities by providing scholarships for Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officers.
Last year, the Government of India for the first time provided 19 such scholarships which saw local soldiers undergoing various military training in India. Of the 19 scholarships, 10 were allotted to army ranks, five to the Air Corps, and the rest to the Coast Guard. The scholarships were offered under the Indian Government’s Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).
During a recent exclusive interview with this publication, Dr Srinivasa disclosed that 10 GDF ranks have already completed various courses, while two others have left for India.
He explained that the courses will be completed over various months. Given the good response to the scholarships last year, the Indian High Commissioner said that from mid-2022 to next year, the Government of India will be increasing the number of military scholarships from 19 to 28.
According to him, GDF Major Sven Douglas was recently trained in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping train the trainer programme. “Guyana has never participated in the UN training, so we are training Guyanese officers to train the troops here…,” Dr Srinivasa added.
Major Douglas, who graduated with the highest examination score, was awarded the prize for Best Foreign Officer. The diplomat described the training exercises as a “growing collaboration” between Guyana and India. He said, “…because India is the third-largest military power in the world. And we have advanced forces, in the army, the air force and the navy we are every good in that. We believe in sharing the training with our friendly countries across the world. It is a part of our social cooperation.” The diplomat noted that the value attached to the Indian education system is very high. He also expressed how proud he is of scholars returning to contribute to the development of Guyana. In addition to military training, the GDF and Guyanese have benefitted from courses offered through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme.
Since taking office, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Dr Irfaan Ali has openly committed to providing increased training for the GDF, Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Fire Service (GFS), and Guyana Prison Service (GPS) ranks. Over the years, GDF ranks have benefitted from various military training such as emergency medical evacuation, marksmanship, medical evacuation, recovery response, search-and-rescue, and engineering. GDF ranks have also been sent on exchange programmes in the United States and Caribbean countries.
The GDF recently deployed 50 ranks from various units to Exercise Tradewinds (ETW) 2022, which will be held from May 7-21 in Belize. In February, the Texila American University (TAU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GDF which will see ranks benefitting from free training.
Moreover, Guyana is moving to increase patrols on its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has already paid $2.3 billion for a patrol vessel that is being constructed by the United States company, Metal Shark. A whopping $47.9 billion was allocated to the security sector in the 2022 national budget.