Guyana and the Unites States have signed a new pact aimed at boosting the South American CARICOM nation’s military might. It comes following a decree issued by embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, unilaterally laying claim to Guyana’s Essequibo territory.
The Guyana Defense Force (GDF) Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Godfrey Bess and US Admiral Craig S Faller entered into an agreement on Tuesday with the United States (US) Department of Defense that can see Guyana benefitting from logistic support from the US, as well as supplies and equipment that will include military vehicles and ammunition.
Admiral Faller, a decorated war veteran who heads the US Southern Command, is on a three-day visit to Guyana. In his remarks after the signing, Faller explained what Guyana can expect from the agreement. He also noted that the visit and consequential agreement has been in the works for some time and builds on the increased collaboration between the US and Guyana.
“The acquisition and cross-servicing agreement is fundamentally about logistics. Basic things like parts, things you might need to fix your equipment, or food or fuel and our ability to trade goods and services while exercising or operating together,” Admiral Faller said. “So what this does is it lays out that process or framework. So that when we do need to share food or basic things important to the military, we can do that very efficiently. So it sets the conditions for us to continue with our robust exercise program and train together, things we have been doing and look forward to continuing in the future.”
Brigadier General Bess in his remarks also welcomed the signing of the agreement. He was optimistic about the continued collaboration between the two armies against transnational security threats.
“These threats, if left unattended, can erode national security and undermine regional stability. The Guyana Defense Force, therefore, looks increasingly to defense cooperation as a means of improving the responsiveness to natural disaster and transnational criminal threats,” Bess said. “Defense cooperation also enhances the professionalism of our military officers… the GDF is pleased to be a part of this agreement. The agreement allows for greater predictability in our defense partnership. It establishes a formal basis for the exchange of services between the militaries of Guyana and the US.”
Last year, Guyana had signed a ship rider agreement with the US which has since been operational with joint patrols in Guyana’s waters that currently focus on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Guyana’s Coast Guard has been working in collaboration with the US Coast Guard Cutter Stone, which is currently in the Region for a multi-country tour.
The Venezuelan decree has been swiftly condemned by Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali, its opposition Leader Joseph Harmon, the United States, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).