In speaking of an ongoing process to conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review for Belize, Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Commander of the Belize Defence Force (BDF), cautioned that if the nation is not prepared to deal with existing threats, which are bound to expand in the area of narcotics, it could very well lose the battle.
“The dynamics have changed for the country; the threat is constantly evolving,” said Tapia. “When you prepare for one threat, you find out that it has evolved; it has changed.
“Currently, we are keeping in mind the cartels operating in [neighboring countries], and who knows? In the very near future we might be dealing with that in Belize, and if we are not prepared to deal with that threat, we certainly we will be fighting a...losing battle.”
The Belize Defence Force is getting help from Canada and the British High Commissioner in putting together its Strategic Defence and Security Review. Tapia said that the intent is to have international partners assist the BDF.
With the planning exercise for the 2012-2013 national budget in process, Defence Minister Carlos Perdomo said that increasing manpower in the BDF is something that will be factored into the numbers. Usually, about 40 to 50 new soldiers are recruited yearly, said Tapia, but the budget will allow for 30 more to be added annually, with the aim of forming a new BDF company after about three years.
Minister Perdomo said that there have been discussions at the National Security Council level to boost the number of soldiers. The size of the Belize Coast Guard will also be increased.
In August 2011, Brigadier General Tapia had said that at the prior meeting of Belize’s National Security Council, the decision was taken to undertake a Strategic Defence and Security Review, to set out the long-term needs of Belize.
Belize’s last strategic review was done in 2000—12 years ago. The review is expected to conclude later this year. Amandala