Nine US Coast Guard members, who are part of a newly-formed Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT), completed a two-day visit earlier this week during which they met with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and its Coast Guard leadership.
The joint US Coast Guard/Department of Defence team, which is based out of the US Southern Command in Miami, Florida, conducted the visit ahead of the expected delivery of coastal patrol vessels in the coming months through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) partnership between the US, Caricom and the Dominican Republic.
A press release from the US Embassy said the team provides hands-on technical assistance in support of the CBSI partnership, focusing on the upkeep of the US-purchased interceptor-type small boats used for combating international organised crimes, such as narco-trafficking and piracy.
According to the release, during the October 22 to October 24 visit, the TAFT team met the leadership of the GDF and Coast Guard and conducted an assessment of the current state of the GDF Coast Guard vessels, infrastructure and maintenance and logistics systems. The team specialises in small boat repairs, development of short and long-term maintenance plans and the improvement of logistics and supply processes, often serving as a conduit between US Embassy staff, local forces and commercial and technical representatives.
The embassy said the visit enabled the TAFT team to develop a strong rapport with their GDF counterparts and better understand the everyday challenges of operating small vessels within local territorial waters. Select members of the team travelled by GDF Air corps helicopters to the GDF Coast Guard’s floating base in the Essequibo River, where they were briefed on the distinctive challenges faced by the GDF Coast Guard personnel in operating the floating base. At the end of the visit, TAFT Senior Chief Machinery Technician Gilbert Page praised the GDF Coast Guard colleagues the team worked with for their “ingenuity and professionalism.”
According to the press release, the US Coast Guard team and US Embassy’s Military Liaison Office regard the visit as establishing a strong foundation for further CBSI cooperation. TAFT Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant Commander William “Brian” Winburn was quoted as saying that the team’s presence reflected the United States commitment to the CBSI. Lieutenant Commander Bob Novotny, commander of the Embassy’s Military Liaison Office added that this initial TAFT visit “marks the beginning of a new and enduring chapter in security cooperation and information exchange between the United States and Guyana in the support of the Caribbean Basin security Initiative.”