The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will on Thursday begin a nine-day joint training exercise here, dubbed Fused Response 2012, with the United States military.
According to US Ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hardt, Fused Response is the largest annual exercise of its sort in the hemisphere, with participation by approximately 125 Guyanese personnel and 350 U.S. personnel. This is said to be the first time the exercise will be conducted in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Hardt explained, during a brief press conference at Camp Ayanganna, that the exercise is aimed at improving the capabilities of both countries and he further stated that plans are in place to conduct joint operations.
The exercise, he added, is designed to develop the inter-operability of U.S. and Guyanese military forces, enhance law enforcement cooperation through training conducted by the FBI, and to increase the capacity of the military and law enforcement authorities to respond to crises, such as organized crime and illicit trafficking. It also aims to provide assistance for natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies. He went on to say that the teams will specifically address crime scene investigations and hostage negotiation-type scenarios.
Participants are set to be trained in two core areas: the military tactical level, and the senior military staff level. In addition to members of the special operations force of the US and members of the GDF, some members of the Guyana Police Force and other arms of local security services would also be participating.
In preparing for the Fused Response, U.S. construction teams have been stationed in Guyana for some months now and have been involved in some developmental work.
“They have been working with the Guyana Defence Force to completely refurbish the rifle range at Camp Stephenson, entirely renovate three barracks at Camp Stephenson and construct a floating dock and the extension of boat ramps at the GDF’s Jungle and Amphibious Training School,” he informed.
When Stabroek News asked about funding, Hardt indicated that the U.S. is funding the station of its forces while the GDF and Government of Guyana are funding the stations of their personnel. However, funding for the upgrades and construction that the forces are engaged in is being provided by the U.S.
He noted that though provision of weapons is not a part of this particular exercise, the U.S. is looking to supply the GDF with riverain patrol vessels, which are due to arrive in 2013.
Also addressing the media was Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who noted that this is an annual, routine exercise. “We have these training programmes every year. The U.S forces are here at the invitation of the Government of Guyana,” he said.
He explained that the exercise is aimed at familiarizing the two forces in working together so as to make them capable of jointly responding to security challenges which may arise, as well as humanitarian and disaster relief events.
“Security of the state and of the citizens is the most important thing and that it is necessary for the prosperity, for citizens to get on with their business,” Hinds stated.
While training grounds are said to be at the Timehri and Makouria areas, persons residing in various areas near to other base camps are asked not to be alarmed at the sounds of simulated explosives, gunfire and low-flying aircraft. It was noted that training activities will be conducted with firm adherence to security procedures that will prevent harm or injury to any member of the public.