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Jan 30, 2008

B.D.F. celebrates 30th anniversary

Story PictureIt’s a military force with a large mission and less than large resources. But for the last thirty years the Belize Defence Force has, for the most part, risen to the occasion. This week the B.D.F. is celebrating the beginning of its fourth decade with a series of anniversary events. News Five’s Kendra Griffith has the story.

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett, Commander, Belize Defence Force
“I think in the past one of the misconceptions was that we had so many soldiers sitting down in the barracks doing nothing, but I think we have dispelled that over the last couple of years.”

This morning the Belize Defence Force put its operations front and centre, with the launch of an exhibition entitled “The B.D.F. at 30; Marching Forward.”

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett
“We have historical pictures of the B.D.F. involved in operations, in administration. We have a day in the life of the B.D.F., we have support that we have gotten from the British Forces, we have photos about the formation of the B.D.F. on the first of January 1978.”

According to B.D.F. Commander, Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett, the force has come a long way during those thirty years.

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett
“During the time of the formation of the B.D.F. it was a quite tense situation. It was before independence, Guatemala has mass troops along the border the previous year and so for us to achieve independence there was a need to develop a defence force to guarantee our territorial integrity.”

“We started with sixty men, now we’ve grown into two infantry battalions, a volunteer battalion, a support group, a small air wing, a small boat squadron and a small special assignment group, so I think the changes are astonishing and we hope to continue this for the next thirty years and beyond.”

Gillett is encouraging civilians and soldiers alike to view the exhibition, which will be on display until the end of February.

Brig. Gen Lloyd Gillett
“We are hoping, first of all, that the B.D.F. soldiers who are in the force come and see the exhibition because a lot of them have joined recently and they don’t know as much of the history as we would like to. Secondly, we are looking for the retired B.D.F. to come back and look at the pictures and reminisce about their time in the B.D.F. and then we are looking for school children to come so that they develop and interest in the defence of their country.”

But while the soldiers were viewing pictures and video at the House of Culture, primary school students were checking out the tools of the trade at an open day held at Militia Hall.

The scene is one that was duplicated across all nine B.D.F. camps around the country and was yet another activity forming part of their thirtieth anniversary celebrations.

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett
“Tomorrow we have a cultural night. We are showing off all the culture of Belize. We have some invited guests, we are asking members of the general public to show up as well. On Friday we have the anniversary parade and on Saturday we have an open day.”

Saturday’s fair will be held at Price Barracks starting at nine. Entrance is one dollar, which also earns you a raffle ticket. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

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