This morning at the Coast Guard Headquarters in Belize City, eighty-seven new recruits were officially welcomed into the maritime law enforcement agency. While these men and women were formally inducted into the organization, they will be led by a new officer in charge. This morning at the passing out ceremony, Captain Elton Bennett was recognized as the incoming commandant of the coast guard, succeeding Rear Admiral John Borland who has led the organization since 2009. The event was filled with family and friends, as well as high level government officials and dignitaries who showed up in support of the new commander and his officers. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The ascension of Captain Elton Bennett to the helm of the Belize Coast Guard is the fulfillment of a succession plan that came into effect upon the establishment of the maritime law enforcement agency in 2005. Under the leadership of Rear Admiral John Borland, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds and is poised to continue in that direction with a new officer in charge.
Capt. Elton Bennett, Incoming Commandant, Belize Coast Guard
“From the time I joined the coast guard we had a succession plan and that’s down to good leadership. From 2005 when we formed this we had a straight career development plan that will take you on different course, that will give you different assignments in the coast guard that will develop your leadership and I knew from then that I would have succeeded Admiral Borland as the commandant.”
Since taking over in 2009, Rear Admiral Borland has worked closely with Captain Bennett as his second-in-command, grooming him to one day lead the coast guard into times ahead. This morning, the reins were officially handed over with much pomp and circumstance.
Rear Admiral John Borland, Outgoing Commandant, Belize Coast Guard
“The future of the coast guard belongs to my successor and his command team. A man who is equally adept, capable and competent, a man who has been my greatest ally, my friend, my brother, my mentor at times. I would trust no other person with a job as important as this and as vital to the survivor of this nation. So today, it is with no regret, nor reservation that I relinquish command of the Belize Coast Guard into the sure and steady hands of Captain Elton Bennett. Sir, you have command.”
Borland’s departure, however, is not into retirement. In fact, he too is ascending to the echelons of the Ministry of National Security.
John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
“Admiral Borland was not yet due for retirement, but we opted for this change in command because we felt that it was an opportune time for us to have new leadership of the Belize Coast Guard but also a new direction at the Ministry of National Security. We therefore saw it necessary for the creation of what in other countries is known as Chief of Defense Staff that is responsible for coordinating the agencies that are responsible for the defense of our country. It is within that context then that we have agreed to establish that office and its first CDS to be our outgoing Admiral John Borland.”
With a new leader formally in place, what can the men and women of the Belize Coast Guard expect from its most senior officer?
Capt. Elton Bennett
“My style is really mission command. Once commanders understand what they are supposed to d, they will be able to competently execute. But I must say that the coast guard is not led on personality, we have a strategy, we have a vision and mission and we have a Coast Guard Act that we go by. What we don’t want to have is an organization that shifts and sways with different personalities that come to command. That’s not good. What we want to do is to ensure that we continue on that strategy.”