The Government of Guyana, more so, the President and Head of the Presidential Secretariat must be commended for their stance in relation to the U.K.’s demands for the training of British Special Forces officers on Guyana’s territory, and worse yet, in close proximity to Guyana’s South American neighbours, namely, Brazil and Venezuela.
The British sought to include this, among many other unreasonable requests as part of the package in the Government of Guyana’s quest for assistance in reforming our security sector as was reported in the press.
Such a request from the British must be seen as unreasonable, an affront to Guyana’s territorial sovereignty and could even undermine Guyana’s relationship with her neighbours whom we know from previous experiences could interpret the presence of Western military personnel in close proximity to their borders as an act of hostility or concern and may even spark an arms race in South America.
We must also be mindful of Guyana’s commitment to the South American Defence Council, whose membership comprises 12 South American countries, Venezuela and Brazil included, and is a diplomatic forum aimed at defusing regional conflicts, increasing transparency in military expenditures, and promoting military cooperation for the fulfillment of regional security needs. As such, the presence of British Special Forces troops on Guyana’s soil and in close proximity to the borders of Brazil and Venezuela would be in contradiction to our aim of being part of such a grouping.
Guyana must also view such a request by the British as suspicious owing to the fact that a British Army unit is located at the vast training area of Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Alberta, Canada. This unit is called the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) and is also the British Army’s largest armoured training facility which can accommodate live-firing and tactical effects simulation. So why one now in Guyana?