Guyana Defense Force reserves growing, says minister

By Guyana Chronicle

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Minister of State Joseph Harmon

(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – MINISTER of State Joseph Harmon is encouraging residents of Region Two to join the Guyana People’s Militia (GPM) as that is the only region where persons have not expressed interest and persons cannot be coerced in doing such.

Harmon was at the time responding to Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira in Parliament on Thursday when she requested the criteria and methodology of recruitment of persons into the People’s Militia, the number of recruitments, training, stipends and other benefits.

In response Minister Harmon said that the number of persons recruited by regions are: Region One -36, Region Two – zero, Region Three -154, Region Four – 365, Region Five -204, Region Six 405, Region Seven -93, Region Eight 42, Region Nine – 45 and Region 10 – 264.

He said that training is done by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) three times per week in the regions. The training focuses on map reading and navigation, personal drills, field craft, jungle operations, open country warfare, weapons training, first aid, disaster relief operations, internal security, national policy and academic development.

He said the recruits receive a stipend of $2,829 per day by the GDF financial department for attendance at regional training and whenever they are required to participate in national or regional activities.

“After a hiatus of 10 years the reserve officer training has recommenced from reserve officer course number 15 and on graduation, these officers will be providing leadership,” he said.

Minister Harmon said all recruits are subjected to medical, physical and psychological evaluations which are done before training commences.

Meanwhile, Teixeira said the purpose of the militia is to augment the GDF but Region Two appears not to be given the attention it deserves. Harmon related that the process for the militia is voluntary and advertisements are placed in the media and persons responded “there was no coercion” people were responding.

“It is important for us to understand that we cannot coerce people or force people to join the militia as I said it’s an ongoing exercise and in fact if the figure are low in Region Two, I would encourage my colleagues on the other side of the house to encourage those persons over which they may have some influence to join the peoples militia,” he said.

He noted that advertisements are placed on social media, radio, television and flyers are distributed to attract interest.

On January 3, 2016, the Chief-of-Staff of the GDF Brigadier Mark Phillips announced that the Guyana People’s Militia had been re-activated with effect from December 1, 2015 and that it had hoped to recruit an additional 1500 persons as reserves. “These are not full-time, these are part-time soldiers. The whole concept to have a small regular army and a larger reserve that could augment the regular army,” he said.

Phillips explained the advantage of having the GPM as a separate entity rather than being part of the GDP as the 2nd Infantry Battalion since August, 1997. “They will have a separate budget and a separate organizational structure, greater involvement at the regional and community levels in defence and security activities, not to mention training and employment activities,” he had said.

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