The Commander Designate of the Belize Defense Force on Tuesday received new vehicles to add to its current fleet and enhance their ability to patrol our borders and aid in fighting crime. This morning Colonel David Jones, who takes over command of the B.D.F. on February first, received another donation. The US Embassy is handing over two new buildings that will be used for training as well as for an amphitheatre for the light engineering unit. Duane Moody was on hand for the donation.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The Belize Defence Force today received a generous donation; two buildings that will house an amphitheatre and provide office space for the Light Engineering Company; a unit of the force. The one point four million dollar donation is expected to improve, increase and strengthen the capabilities of the light engineering company and by extension, the B.D.F.
Lt. Col. David Jones, Deputy Commander, B.D.F.
“The first building which houses the offices will have the company commander, the platoon commander, the senior administrator in the company—will do all their administration from there. This building that we are standing in is called an amphitheatre where the lecturers and training will be done for that particular unit. So prior to any deployment overseas, we would have large gathering, large lectures here; operational briefings and then these guys deploy.”
Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. Ambassador
“This was funded by a global peace keeping operations initiative—it is a presidential initiative. The primary purpose of this project is to build with partnered countries globally. United States is trying to build capacity to assist United Nations Projects; the most notable one in the region is Haiti in 2010. That’s a good example where U.N, was involved and many donor countries were involved. So this is that type of a project to help build capacity in Belize to be able to respond to international peace keeping needs.”
Since 1995, the Light Engineering Company has been in existence and has grown in skills and human resources. There are now over ninety soldiers in the company.
Lt. Col. David Jones
“When I was the engineer commander, it was only a platoon. We had about forty-two guys in the company at that time and since the U.S. in the early 2000, the U.S. Government stepped in, the United States Military Liaison Office had shown an interest in the Light Engineer Company. They have looked at not just the crime fighting efforts of the B.D.F. on the streets. They would like to see what role the Belize Defence Force can play in the region—not just anti-narcotics. And the engineer company became a focus. So millions of dollars were invested in equipment and training for the engineer company.”
This is the sixth year since the U.S. Military Liaison Office, through its Southern Command, has been partnering with the B.D.F.’s light engineering company providing them with the training and the tools.
“What’s taught here are vocational skills to become a mechanic, to become an electrician, to become a draftsman, to be able to design things—all sorts of very traditional but modern techniques of vocational skills. Prior to this building coming about, previously this partnership also included ITVET in Belize City.”
Lt. Col. David Jones
“These buildings are primarily for the light engineering company. They are the ones who does the construction and maintenance work for the Belize Defence Force and they are the same guys who have been deployed to Haiti and Honduras before on humanitarian efforts.”
In 2010, three contingents of the Light Engineering Company were deployed to Haiti for rehabilitation; building of schools, clinics and the like. Duane Moody for News Five.