The Belize Coast Guard officially changed command on Wednesday 27 November 2019. The official handing over ceremony was held on the 14th anniversary of the BCG, and coincided with the latest recruit intake.
The Belize Coast Guard was officially established on 27 November 2005. It now has a new commandant, Captain Elton Bennet.
John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
“Admiral Borland was not yet due for retirement, but we opted for this change in command because we felt that it was an opportune time for us to have new leadership of the Belize Coast Guard but also a new direction at the Ministry of National Security.
“We therefore saw it necessary for the creation of what in other countries is known as Chief of Defense Staff that is responsible for coordinating the agencies that are responsible for the defense of our country. It is within that context then that we have agreed to establish that office and its first CDS to be our outgoing Admiral John Borland.”
Captain Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “From the time I joined the Coast Guard we had a succession plan and that’s down to good leadership, from 2005 when we formed this we had a straight career development plan that will take you on different courses, that would give you different assignments in the Coast Guard to develop your leadership and I knew from then that I would have succeeded Admiral Borland as the Commandant so it came as no surprise.
“Our succession plan is very crucial to the leadership, as a matter of fact I’ve met with all my officers already and I have developed an eight year plan so each officer knows exactly where he will be along that eight year time frame, exactly what course he will be attending so this is really career development and it really is incumbent upon leadership to ensure that officers are developed and you know exactly where you’re going and when you’re going. My style is really mission command, once commanders understand what they’re supposed to do they will be able to competently execute.
“What I must say is that the Coast Guard is not led on personality, we have a strategy, we have vision and mission and we have a Coast Guard Act that we go by. What we don’t want to have is an organization that shifts and sways with different personalities that come to command. I am sure I’ve developed a really good relationship with our officers over time, I have been here since the Coast Guard started so all of them have gone through my hands whether it’s as a recruiting officer or through the officer selection board they all went through my hands at some stage so I believe I’m a father figure to the organization at this stage and I’m sure I will receive the support.”
Captain Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “There are a few things that I want to accomplish, one is for us to improve our operational competence at sea and this will require us to explore the prosecution realm of operations. Currently the Coast Guard does not prosecute it’s cases, we hand over to a competent authority to prosecute. If we’re able to prosecute our own cases for those offenses of fisheries violations, vessel safety violations, we will be able to improve our operational competence so that is one thing that I’m looking at, the other one is strategic communication. Quite often the Coast Guard does not do it’s best at getting it’s messaging out and that’s one of the things I want to do; establish a strategic communications office in the headquarters to ensure that we’re able to manage information and especially that information with the media.”
Admiral John Borland, Former Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “The future of the Coast Guard belongs to my successor and his command team. A man who is equally adept, capable and competent, a man who has been my greatest ally, my friend, my brother, my mentor at times; I would trust no other person with a job as important as this and as vital to the survival of this nation. So today it is with no regret nor reservation that I relinquish command of the Belize Coast Guard into the sure and steady hands of Captain Elton Bennett. Sir, you have command.”
Captain Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Today we graduated 85 recruits and two officer cadets, they’ll join the fleet immediately. They’ll do a one year as Sea Man’s apprentice meaning they go under a senior Petty Officer and they work to develop their seaman ship because the recruit training is only three months long we don’t focus on enough seamanship so that one year of apprenticeship will really prepare them on the job training to become competent at what they do. The Coast Guard’s strategy calls for a 700 strong Coast Guard by 2020, we fell behind a bit and the plan is to try to get up to 700, we’re not going to make it by 2020 so we’re increasing our numbers. We don’t have training facilities so we tap into our resources from the BDF and from BATSUB in this case so it’s all dependent on the facilities that are available to us; in this case we train up at the British Army training grounds in Price Barracks and they had more room so we could have more recruits.”
Admiral John Borland is moving on as the Chief of Staff of Defence in the Ministry of National Security.