The Belize Coast Guard (BCG) celebrated the commemoration of their 16-year anniversary 28 November, and the event marked the promotion of 105 of its members to various ranks, including their Commander Elton Bennett who was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. The rank of Rear Admiral i s currently the highest rank that exists within the Belize Coast Guard and following what can only be described as a major accomplishment we spoke to Rear Admiral, Elton Bennett, who now becomes the third person in the history of the country that has been bestowed with such prestigious title. “ It certainly is fulfilling knowing that all the hard work paid off, all the cooperation responsibility, strategic planning, the education, that went into it all with a view to qualify me for the rank of Rear Admiral. So it is definitely an honor to be promoted to that rank and to be in charge of the fine men and women of the Belize Coast Guard and that are what really matters for me that those that serve under my command are among Belize’s finest.”
Rear Admiral Bennett, who has dedicated 25 years of his life to the nation, said that when he took over command of the force in 2019 he did so at the rank of Captain. He further explained that the established rank for a Commander in the force is Rear Admiral and so he had to depart the country to further his studies to formally become qualified. But even on the heels of his recent promotion, Bennett said that a part of his mandate is to ensure that there is succession planning in place within the department to ensure that other members of the force are being groomed to take over command when that becomes necessary. “I do have a few officers that are nearing senior officer status that are being prepared in their career to ensure that they do have the right posting in the coast guard and that we have the right level of education and exposure to move up the chain. So yes there is a conscious effort to ensure that our officers are groomed to take over when that time comes,” said Bennett.
As the Coast Guard moves forward , Commander Bennett said that his main plans are to ensure that the force is prepared and equipped to undertake the challenges that comes along with keeping watch over Belize maritime areas. Additionally, he says that he will be ensuring that the strategy of the BCG works in tandem with GOB’s “Blue Bond” target which seeks to expand protection in maritime areas, thereby increasing their jurisdiction and need for additional patrols. 16 years ago, on November 28th, 2005, the Belize Coast Guard, formed with 50 men and women from the Belize Police Department and the Belize Defence Force. Fast forward to today and the BCG now comprises over 500 members, while plans are already in place to expand the force to 850 members by the year 2030. “We have matured into a credible military force, we have taken on more responsibilities, we have extended our operations, ranging from routine patrols to special operations, national security and countering transnational and organized crime as well as cross border issues, since then” said Commander Bennett, in closing.