The central theme for this issue of the Watchstander Newsletter is Security Cooperation. It captures engagement with five of our main partners: Canada, Guyana, Mexico, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States. The security cooperation that has been established and maintained over time with the militaries of these, our closest allies, have positively impacted the Belize Coast Guard and by extension our national security through contributing and partnering in leadership development and training, operations, expertise exchanges, infrastructure development and acquisition of equipment. Image Above: Queens Platinum Jubilee medal awarded to Lieutenant JG Melissa Jones. CLICK HERE To Download Watchstander
The cover page best exemplifies the scope of our security cooperation whereby Lieutenant JG Otto Garcia, a graduate of the Guyanese Military Academy met with the President of Cooperative Republic of Guyana Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali during his visit to Belize in February of this year. Our engagement with the Guyanese Defence Force is relatively new albeit we have already commissioned five officers that have studied at the Guyanese military academy. We are excited about the prospects of expanding the scope of that engagement in the very near future to include exchange of personnel.
Belize was honoured to host the Commander of US Southern Command General Laura Richardson in February of this year as we co hosted the Central American Security Conference. I was honoured to have had the opportunity to engage with the General on topics of leadership development and my vision for the Belize Coast Guard. We remain committed to the collaborative effort in combatting transnational and organized crime that plagues the region.
Our special relationship with the Mexican Navy is featured in this issue of the Watchstander in a more operational context. I had the opportunity to provide the Mexican Naval attaché, and the Army/Airforce Attaché with an orientation of our northern area of operation where we share adjacent seas. This was a very useful session that brought a better appreciation of time and space in an area where threats that are transnational in nature exploits the vast maritime domain. I was also privileged to host the Canadian Military Attaché Colonel Alain Veilleux, a very key partner for the Belize Coast Guard. Our discussions were broad and spanned the spectrum of capacity development, an area where we benefit significantly through the Canadian military support to attend programs at various schools of excellence in Jamaica.
I’m also excited to report that we are exploring new dimensions with our British partners. The Ocean Country Partnership is a strategic platform for us to maximise on the opportunities that exist with conservation and protection of our marine environment. The Belize Coast Guard is well placed to benefit, and contribute to these initiatives.
The Belizean footprint in Taiwan continues to increase with students that are preparing to advance our nation into future. And this remains true for the Belize Coast Guard as well. In March of this year we were the recipients of two key scholarship opportunities for leadership development: Naval Command and Staff College being attended by Lieutenant Commander Alma Pinelo, and the Naval Academy attended by Rasheed Broaster. I’m also excited to report that we are currently in the drafting stages of a memorandum of understanding between the Belize Coast Guard and the Taiwanese Navy to expand and formalize our defence engagement opportunities.
Beyond the theme of Security Cooperation this issue of the Watchstander highlights operations in the central sector of operations where we have had significant success. Interestingly, all of these operations are joint in nature. This is a true and accurate representation of the scope of activities within which we engage. A one-page graphic depicts this well on page fourteen.
The Watchstander would not be completed without capturing our wellness programs which in this issue features activities in women’s month. Worthy of mention is the leadership symposium that was held under the theme “we rise by lifting each other, women in arms standing firm and strong!” I had the privilege of attending this symposium and participating in very exciting topics for women in the service. Our sports programs are very important for our organizational wellbeing, and I’m happy to see that we are able to participate in these activities in the communities that we serve. – BCG Commandant Rear Admiral Elton Bennett