The Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard are now better able to perform their duties thanks to a two million dollar donation from the United States Embassy. On Friday, November 15th, Margaret Hawthorne, Charge D’ Affaires of the US Embassy to Belize, handed over the keys for seven Jeep off road vehicles and one Boston Whaler boat to Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security.
The Belize Defense Force received three Jeep J-eight transport vehicles, three Jeep J-eight Patrol vehicles, and one Jeep J-eight Ambulance. Brigadier General David Jones said, “The vehicles will significantly improve the force’s ability to patrol challenging terrains and will be used specifically for quick reaction forces.” Jones said the force was badly in need of an ambulance for some time now. He said, “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 [now] that is going to be on spot rugged enough to get them in and out of those terrain." Jones said the British Land Rovers were previously used for patrols in challenging terrains but “we don’t have those any more”. In addition to the vehicles, the B.D.F. also received 100 body armour vests, four Panasonic laptops, one tool package and two uninterrupted power suppliers.
The Belize Coast Guard received a Boston Whaler 370 Outrage Justice Series Boat. Admiral John Borland, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard is now operating beyond the coast to the limits of our territorial seas; therefore, the new boat “is certainly a huge upgrade that will enhance Coast Guard operations”. It is the seventh boat the Coast Guard has received as part of a 15 year agreement with the United States for fleet development. The Coast Guard previously used a Columbian fleet, but according to Admiral Borland, “[the Boston Whalers] give us the capability that the old Colombians couldn't which is better sea keeping qualities, better platforms to operate, better surveillance capability, better communication capability, space for mounting our weapons and keeping our crew out of elements during foul weather.” In addition to the boat, the Coast Guard also received twelve sets of maritime dive gear, three Panasonic laptops, two sets of maintenance tools, one hydraulic outboard engine hoist and one motor backup test tank.
Hon. John Saldivar said, “The US Government’s action of cooperation is aligned with Belize’s strategy of security for this nation and by extension the region. Our bilateral cooperation and communication have been harmonized and deepened.”The Guardian