Tonight there are 7 brand new heavy duty military vehicles parked on the BDF Price Barracks which the US Government officially handed over today.

Today, 7News attended the handing over ceremony, and we found out that not even bad weather dampened the gifting:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
This morning, standing in the rain, Coast Guard and the BDF Commanders smiled for the cameras along with their Security Minister, as they received the keys to brand new vehicles and equipment, an early Christmas present from the United States Southern Command.

They took possession of 2 million dollars-worth of equipment which included 7 J8 Military Vehicles, and one Boston Whaler Outrage Justice Boat.

The donation is part of US SouthCom's Counter-Drug Program to help the Belize to deal with transnational narcotics and illicit trafficking.

Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security
"Our security forces continue to grow into a force which is capable of ensuring that the citizen and people of Belize live in a safe secured and tranquil environment at peace with itself and its neighbors."

A remarkable pace of growth, but today the BDF commander told us that they are still lacking key components to increase efficiency and reach.

Brigadier General David Jones - Commander, Belize Defence Force
"It was a discussion that actually took place about 2 years ago which I had with the US Military Liaison Office here on Price Barracks where I discussed with them what we are lacking are small rapid reaction type vehicles to do the such operation that we are going to see now that these vehicle are going to provide."

And so, the US Government delivered on those promises made 2 years ago.

Margaret Hawthorne - Charge D' Affairs, US Embassy
"This is part of our continuing program and our continuing cooperation with the Government of Belize, with the BDF, with the Coast Guard to help build capacity and to provide assistance with the two forces because of the excellent partnership and cooperation that we share. We worked together a great deal on many number of issues."

So, how will these new vehicles be put to use?

Brigadier General David Jones - Commander, Belize Defence Force
"These vehicles are going to be used for our quick reaction forces for soldiers who will deploy on emergency operations be it from here at Price Barracks, Fairweather Camp in Punta Gorda or in the Cayo District especially in the Cayo District where we have the need for off-road capability - these jeeps are perfect."

"In the past we've had the British Land rovers, but however, we don't have those anymore and these are going to substitute for them giving us that off-road capability to deploy quickly, get into difficult or challenging terrain and able to interdict the narcotics effort that is coming into Belize."

"Six J8 vehicles will be used for those operations and one of them is an ambulance. Our medical center has been in need of an ambulance for quite some time and one of J8 type vehicle is actually an ambulance that is very is able to go into areas like the Mountain Pine Ridge or all the way to the Caracol Ruins where we had the shooting incident in the past and we need a rugged ambulance to go off-road be it behind the Mountain Pine Ridge area or the Baldy Beacon area when our soldiers are doing training and if there is any injury we have an ambulance that is going to be on spot rugged enough to get them in and out of those terrain."

Along with the vehicles, US also donated 100 body armour vests, and 4 Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 Laptops.

Channel 7