Thirty-nine officer cadets were appointed ensigns during a ceremonial parade yesterday, after conquering the rigorous training of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Standard Officers Course (SOC) 41 over the last nine months.

The course, which started with 60 persons on March 28, will conclude with a commissioning ceremony slated to be held in a few weeks, at which the ensigns will officially be called officers. Sixteen of the ensigns are members of the GDF, another 16 are from the Guyana Police Force, two are from the Guyana Fire Service, one from the Guyana Prison Service, three from the Belizean Defence Force and one from the St Kitts and Nevis Defence Force. Four of them are women.

The officer cadets were decorated with the ensign badge of rank by GDF Chief-of-Staff Commodore Gary Best after parading on the Drill Square at Base Camp Ayanganna.

Delivering the feature address, Commodore Best told the newly decorated ensigns that the parade signals the ceremonial change from civilian status to military status, meaning that their lives are now programmed for the purpose of defence duties.

In addition, he noted that this milestone is the beginning of a professional military career that could last at the most 33 years if their personal goals coincided with those of the organizations they now serve.

Woman Officer Cadet F Boyce (fourth, right) being decorated with her ensign badge of honour by Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Commodore Gary Best at the parade yesterday. (Jules Gibson photo)
Woman Officer Cadet F Boyce (fourth, right) being decorated with her ensign badge of honour by Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Commodore Gary Best at the parade yesterday. (Jules Gibson photo)

Commodore Best noted that this is the first time that the course had drawn so many from the other services.

He told graduates that they completed the course at a time when there has to be greater vigilance at the country’s borders to help combat trans-border criminal activity as well as at a time when the global economy is under serious threat of collapse and the world is in unrest due to the conflicts in the middle east, Africa, Asia as well as South America. “These are times when competition for the world’s resources is greatest and the quest for development is poignant with the resultant climatic changes and soil degradation, placing our own peoples at risk,” he stated.

He told the new ensigns that being on the parade proves that they have satisfied the objects of the course thus far and have already developed character and powers of leadership. “It means that you are now disciplined and confident and it also means that you understand the duties of a good citizen and patriot and I am of the strong belief that they did a splendid job at transforming you into military men and woman.

“Do not wear arrogance on your shoulders. Be firm and fair. Command and communicate. Seek advice when in doubt. Respect your seniors and juniors. Lead by example and be humble enough to learn from those below and above you.”

Many relatives and friends of the cadets and officers from the various disciplinary services turned out in their numbers to watch the parade. They were treated to the excellent obedience of command and coordination among the ranks. Also on parade were the members of the GDF male and female infantry battalion. They were accompanied by the GDF band.

The cadet officers were led by the under officer (best student) Quincy Agard, who hails from Moruka, Region One.

After marching on to the Drill Square at the beginning of the ceremony, the officer cadets were inspected by Commodore Best.

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