— Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement signed
GUYANA and the United States of America will collaborate against regional threats and challenges and participate in military education programmes, capacity-building engagements, bilateral training and expertise exchanges. This was solidified on Tuesday when Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess and Commander of the U.S Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement. Admiral Faller is on a three-day visit to Guyana
The agreement will also pave the way for exchanging goods and services of equal value to support future bilateral defence cooperation.
During a visit by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo in 2020, Guyana and the USA signed a Shiprider agreement, which allows for maritime cooperation between the two countries.
The U.S. Southern Command’s top military leader last visited the country in 2017, when Guyana became the first South American nation to host the Caribbean Nations Security Conference.
The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips; Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy; National Security Adviser, Captain Gerry Gouveia; U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch; and other officials of the government.
Chief of Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess said Guyana is in a region prone to natural hazards and man-made threats which have the potential to undermine security.
Aside from natural disasters, the GDF head explained that terrorism, trafficking in arms, narcotics and human trafficking undermine the rule of law and corrupt youths and institutions, resulting in threats to regional security and stability. “These threats, if left unattended, can erode national security and undermine regional stability. The GDF looks increasing to defence cooperation with an aim to improving the responsiveness to natural disasters and transnational criminal threats,” he said. Further, he said defence cooperation also contributes to the enhancement of professionalism and training of military officers. Noting that the GDF has a long tradition of defence cooperation with the U.S, the Chief of Staff said the GDF participates in the annual “Exercise Tradewinds” that involves the U.S, Canada and other regional states. He noted that officers and civilians have also benefitted from support and training under the international military education and training programme. Adding that Guyana is a signatory to the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), Brigadier Bess said that this allows for the building of partnerships in the security sector along with all other international collaborations and cooperation between defence forces.
FORMAL EXCHANGE OF SERVICES
He noted that the signed Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement allows predictability of partnership and establishes a formal basis for the exchange of services between the militaries of the two countries. “The agreement is predicated with the respect for each other’s sovereignty and in accordance with the principle of non-interference in each other’s international affairs. I am confident that this agreement will advance the partnership between the militaries of the US and Guyana,” Brigadier Bess said.
The Commander of the Defence Department’s Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Admiral Craig Faller, said the signed agreement streamlines how the two governments efficiently and effectively exchange goods or services to support effective and mutually beneficial defence cooperation. “With this agreement, we are entering a new era of defence partnership. For over half a century, our countries have built a bond of friendship in our military-to- military cooperation; a kind of friendship we find amongst neighbours with shared values, neighbours who are committed to democracy,” the admiral explained.
Across the Latin American and Caribbean regions, he said the U.S has been the largest donor of COVID-related humanitarian assistance.
To date, he said, SOUTHCOM has donated $155, 000 to Guyana, and more than $33M to the region. “Additionally, despite COVID, the U.S stepped up with enhanced operations against transnational criminal organisations, along with other regional and international allies and partners,” Admiral Faller said. He continued: “These transnational organisations undermine democracy and they kill citizen’s right here in Georgetown and in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; so that is why we are here. These threats require all of us to work together.”
He said cooperation is key to success in every challenge the two countries face.
“We are stronger when we work together, and I am certain, together there is no challenge or threat that our shared security cannot face. I am proud of the work we have done and I look forward to our continued cooperation. We have much work to do as neighbours, friends and, most importantly, as teammates who respect democracy and the rule of law and values,” the US Admiral emphasised.