By the standards of the English
speaking Caribbean islands, it's
a finely tuned, well equipped
military juggernaut; but by
Central American
measurements, the Belize
Defence Force barely qualifies
as a standing army, boasting
not a single tank, fighter plane or helicopter. How
ever you want to judge the B.D.F., it remains our
first line of defence against any threat to the
nation's sovereignty... and this weekend it marks a
quarter century of service. Marion Ali reports on
how that milestone is being marked.

Marion Ali, Reporting
It has been around for the past twenty-five years, and
not without acknowledgement. Today the Philatelic
section of the Belize Postal Service released a
commemorative twenty-five cent issue in observance
of the Belize Defence Force's twenty-fifth anniversary.
And just as stamps are designed to do, Philatelic
Supervisor, Emelia Cayetano, says this particular issue
aptly highlights the subject.

Emelia Cayetano, Philatelic Supervisor
"The mahogany tree represents Belize and its people.
The rifle signifies the defence of the country and the
axe represents the aid to civil power...It is the
emblem of the Belize Defence Force. This emblem is
used on the badge and it is on the flag of the Belize
Defence Force."

According to the B.D.F.'s, Major Raphael Martinez, the
Force has come a long way in those twenty-five years.

Major Raphael Martinez, B.D.F. Adjutant
"First January 1978 is when the Force actually began
with the amalgamation of the then Police Special
Forces and the Belize Volunteer Guard. And it started
off with only sixty-six men under the command of a
lone service personnel Lieutenant Colonel Brian Ayres,
who was our first commandant. Since then we've had
since such commandants lone service members from
the British Forces commanding the B.D.F...On the
sixth of June 1994 we became in charge of our
country, of our own destiny by the Belizeanisation of
the Force, the air wing and the maritime wings."

And with all the political changes over the years,
Martinez says the duties of the Force remain the

Major Raphael Martinez
"The role of the B.D.F. is still what it has been from
its inception in 1978, primarily to defend our borders,
secondary aid to civil authorities, and third, any task
given by the Governor General from time to time,
which encompasses disaster relief and so on. But it
hasn't changed. It's still the same role that the B.D.F.

has since first January 1978."

Marion Ali for News 5.

The B.D.F. will officially celebrate its silver jubilee
Saturday with its annual fair at Price Barracks, an
event that promises family oriented games, sports,
and entertainment. Free hourly transportation will
be available from the Belcan Bridge. Meanwhile, the
first B.D.F. recruit intake for 2003 will commence in
April for seventy physically fit young men and
women between eighteen and twenty-three.