U.S. Govt. donates 2 million in cash and kind to B.D.F.

U.S. Govt. donates 2 million in cash and kind to B.D.F.
The United States has been a significant ally to Belize's armed forces on land and on the high seas. Today, Uncle Sam made another major donation in cash and kind to the Belize Defence Force. News Five's Kendra Griffith reports.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
This morning the Belize Defence Force took possession of seven hundred thousand dollars worth of radios and related accessories.

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett, Commander, B.D.F.
"Eighteen RF-5800V handheld radios along with eight RF-5800V man pack radios, antennas, radio holders, batteries, battery chargers and other accessories."

"The radios have digital encryption and an embedded global positioning receiver to provide local position information. They are also able to frequency hop at rates of over three hundred hops per second."

According to Commander of the Belize Defence Force Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett, the new radios will also prevent communication problems within the force.

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
"These are digitally encrypted radios, so they are safe for us to communicate. In the past we've had problems with people trying to interfere with our frequencies, but in this case we have the latest high tech equipment that will serve us in our patrols in the urban and rural areas of Belize."

The equipment was donated by the United States Government through its Foreign Military Financing Programme and handed over by Robert Dieter, U.S. Ambassador to Belize.

Robert Dieter, U.S. Ambassador to Belize
"The Belize Defence Force is a light infantry force and secure communications is a key element of your daily mission. Effective communication is critical to the B.D.F.'s tactical mobility and logistical re-supply in times of contingency and essential to executing the manifold peace time missions that Belizeans expect from the B.D.F. These tactical radios will assist the B.D.F. in meeting these critical missions."

And in order to deal with other critical missions such as natural disasters, this morning Dieter also announced that the B.D.F. will be receiving more a million dollars in cash.

Robert Dieter
"This funding is being provided by the Global Peacekeeping Initiative or the GPOI. Belize will receive some U.S. seven hundred thousand dollars for equipment and training in response to its firm commitment to expand security and law enforcement within its borders."

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
"The seven hundred thousand dollars, five hundred thousand of which is for equipment and two hundred thousand for training will be used to develop a light engineer company for the Belize Defence Force. This light engineering company will be able to support the community during times of natural disasters, reconstruction, and also undertake other projects for the B.D.F. outside the hurricane season and projects for the communities."

Robert Dieter
"The idea would be that if there was a hurricane in the region or some other natural disaster that Belize would be able to participate through this light engineering company."

Efforts to establish that light engineering company are already underway. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

During this morning's ceremonies at Price Barracks two B.D.F. soldiers were also recognised for their academic efforts. Second Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis successfully completed a course at the accelerated officer candidate school at Fort McClellan, Alabama. The training was made possible through a relationship with the Louisiana National Guard and was conducted between January thirteenth and March ninth. Meanwhile, nineteen year old officer cadet Giancarlo Alpuche will be leaving home later this month bound for Annapolis, Maryland. Alpuche is the lucky recipient of a scholarship to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. News Five got reactions from both soldiers this morning.

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
"Soberanis is the first member of the volunteer force that we sent abroad to do officer training."

2nd Lt. Gregory Soberanis, Completed Training in Alabama
"You were taught how to lead as an officer, you were taught how to motivate men, how to lead men in various situations, and you are taught military leadership with regards to combat situations."

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
"Our intention now is to try and develop the officers within the volunteer force, especially the junior officers. We've had courses for people in senior positions, but now we want to make the officers in the volunteers go through the same type of training programme that the regular force officers go through."

2nd Lt. Gregory Soberanis
"It is expected that once you've completed those training and you impart into the lives of the men who are under your command, to continue to build and maintain the standard that Belize Defence Force has here. That's what I am gonna continue to do here in Belize."

Giancarlo Alpuche, Scholarship Recipient
"I got a call from General Gillett informing me that I have received the scholarship."

Kendra Griffith
"How did you feel?"

Giancarlo Alpuche
"I was ecstatic. Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to further their education, especially at an institution as renowned as the U.S. Naval Academy and I was grateful for the opportunity and humbled by the opportunity to further my education there."

Kendra Griffith
"Are you excited?"

Giancarlo Alpuche
"Yes ma'am."

Kendra Griffith
"What are you looking forward to the most?"

Giancarlo Alpuche
"The challenge. Belize, S.J.C.J.C., where I just recently graduated last week has prepared me well, but the physical challenges, the academic challenges, the leadership challenges that await me at the U.S. Naval Academy, I relish the opportunity to go there and do my best and hopefully succeed and represent Belize well."

Giancarlo's scholarship is valued at over a hundred and fifty eight thousand U.S. dollars. He plans to study chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry. The cadet is scheduled to leave the country on June sixteenth.

In related news, the Belize Defence Force announced today that there is still space available for a computer assembly course to be held in July. Participants must be between twelve and eighteen years old and can sign up at www.bdf.bz. The course is free of cost.