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Jan 30, 2003

B.D.F. celebrates 25th anniversary

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By the standards of the English speaking Caribbean islands, it’s a finely tuned, well equipped military juggernaut; but by Central American measurements, the Belize Defence Force barely qualifies as a standing army, boasting not a single tank, fighter plane or helicopter. How ever you want to judge the B.D.F., it remains our first line of defence against any threat to the nation’s sovereignty… and this weekend it marks a quarter century of service. Marion Ali reports on how that milestone is being marked.

Marion Ali, Reporting

It has been around for the past twenty-five years, and not without acknowledgement. Today the Philatelic section of the Belize Postal Service released a commemorative twenty-five cent issue in observance of the Belize Defence Force’s twenty-fifth anniversary. And just as stamps are designed to do, Philatelic Supervisor, Emelia Cayetano, says this particular issue aptly highlights the subject.

Emelia Cayetano, Philatelic Supervisor

“The mahogany tree represents Belize and its people. The rifle signifies the defence of the country and the axe represents the aid to civil power…It is the emblem of the Belize Defence Force. This emblem is used on the badge and it is on the flag of the Belize Defence Force.”

According to the B.D.F.’s, Major Raphael Martinez, the Force has come a long way in those twenty-five years.

Major Raphael Martinez, B.D.F. Adjutant

“First January 1978 is when the Force actually began with the amalgamation of the then Police Special Forces and the Belize Volunteer Guard. And it started off with only sixty-six men under the command of a lone service personnel Lieutenant Colonel Brian Ayres, who was our first commandant. Since then we’ve had since such commandants lone service members from the British Forces commanding the B.D.F…On the sixth of June 1994 we became in charge of our country, of our own destiny by the Belizeanisation of the Force, the air wing and the maritime wings.”

And with all the political changes over the years, Martinez says the duties of the Force remain the same.

Major Raphael Martinez

“The role of the B.D.F. is still what it has been from its inception in 1978, primarily to defend our borders, secondary aid to civil authorities, and third, any task given by the Governor General from time to time, which encompasses disaster relief and so on. But it hasn’t changed. It’s still the same role that the B.D.F. has since first January 1978.”

Marion Ali for News 5.

The B.D.F. will officially celebrate its silver jubilee on Saturday with its annual fair at Price Barracks, an event that promises family oriented games, sports, and entertainment. Free hourly transportation will be available from the Belcan Bridge. Meanwhile, the first B.D.F. recruit intake for 2003 will commence in April for seventy physically fit young men and women between eighteen and twenty-three.

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