THE Guyana Defence Force (GDF) reports that 30 soldiers successfully completed a historic GDF Basic Paratrooping Course and received their “Wings” at a simple graduation ceremony last Thursday at Base Camp Stephenson.The course was historic, since it marked the first time in the Army’s history that it has trained personnel from another military institution in the skill of paratrooping. Among the graduates were 17 Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) troops, including an Officer.
Delivering the feature address, Colonel Enoch Gaskin noted that this was a signal moment for the GDF and will augur well for the Force going forward. “This is historic,” he said, “as it is the first time that we have embarked on training personnel from other Forces in the skill of paratrooping.”
He remarked that while many may find it strange that men and women will choose a career where they will jump out of a completely perfect aircraft, those choosing this path are demonstrating to the military command and to their nation that they are dependable – “that they are willing to make the difference between securing freedom rather than being conquered.”
He explained that historically, paratroopers are deployed in small numbers but are expected to make an impact that is sometimes several times greater than their numerical force. He said that this was proven during World War II. “Paratroopers are among the bravest, boldest and ruthless when it comes to destroying the enemy and because they are normally inserted behind enemy lines, their success is always dependent on their fighting skills as well as the element of surprise. He charged the paratroopers to embrace characteristics such as fierceness, resourcefulness and dependability which make them unique.
“Remember that “failure” is not a word or a concept in the vocabulary of a paratrooper,” he emphasised.
“At this level, you have learned the basics about paratrooping. Moving forward, you are to remain operational; that means staying fit. Read and research, always, keeping abreast with new developments in the field and always be ready to join the fight against the state’s enemies, whomsoever they may be; being ready, means that you must remain current with your jumps.”
Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips indicated that the presence of the Jamaican troops on the course was the result of an invitation he had extended to military leaders across the Caribbean at a recently held conference for such leaders in the region. “I indicated to my colleagues that in keeping with the commitment by Caribbean states to co-operate and collaborate on defence and security matters, Guyana and the Guyana Defence Force were committed to providing training in various aspects for which it had the expertise. In that regard, I extended an invitation to all to make use of the opportunity to have members of their military be trained at our facilities in Guyana. Jamaica took advantage of our offer and here we are today. We are graduating 17 members of the JDF together with our troops,” he said, and “the invitation remains open and with this
Basic level training concluded, we are hopeful that the JDF will send these troops back sometime soon to complete the Free Fall training. It is the next phase of paratrooping that builds on the skills achieved at this basic level.”
The Jamaican troop Captain has indicated that their coming to Guyana and the GDF at this time to be trained as paratroopers, is in keeping with the need for the JDF to strengthen its capabilities at handling emerging threats in Jamaica.
He indicated that the goal accomplishment was his team’s vision and he is proud that his troops succeeded. “We came with a unified purpose and we are leaving having fulfilled that purpose. This training will enhance the JDF’s capacity for rapid response and precision insertion in circumstances involving future threats in our country. The GDF and Guyana has been very hospitable. We feel like we are at home. Transitioning was never an issue for any of us and we do look forward to coming back soon,” he said.
The GDF continues to offer opportunities to members of militaries in the Caribbean for training at various levels. To this end, the GDF continues to graduate Officers for the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) and Belize Defence Force (BDF).
Most recently, several troops of the SKNDF completed training at various courses offered by the GDF. Currently, three GDF Officers are pursuing training in Jamaica. A GDF Major is serving as an instructor and three Other Ranks (ORs) are serving as support staff there.