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Dec 13, 2011

B.D.F. mock war in 1992 reloaded

The celebration of Channel Five’s twenty-year anniversary continues. We went back to our archives and found an interesting story, featured in 1992. In this piece that took place in the jungle, the then News Five reporter William Neal joins the Belize Defense Force for a mock war game which occurred near pristine jungle.

William Neal, Reporting

While the infantry was being deployed, the officers were at the main headquarters being briefed on intelligence report. The five battalions taking part in operation jaguar hunt had as their main objective, the eradication of the Narco-Guerillas.

“But because of A; successful recruitment and B; reinforcement from a nearby subversive group, they are now two hundred and sixty strong and capable of accomplishing their mission which is to re-continue their transshipment of drugs to the United States and Europe and arms and ammunitions to South America. However, because of recent operations by the B.D.F., they are overmatched and overpowered. The area of the exercise is bound on the north by the Western Highway and on the South by the Sibun River. We have sectioned off the area into company areas. We have in the east, a company F and E of the regular force and to the west we have C and D company; the volunteers.”

Three regular B.D.F. companies amalgamated to become Battle Group Romeo while the two volunteer companies because battle Group Victor.

William Neal

William Neal

“Battle Group Victor has used its intelligence reports to pinpoint the locations of the narco guerillas on the other side of the Sibun River. Under the cover of darkness, phase one of the elimination mission is about to take place—the river crossing.”

The group of over two hundred and fifty men took about three hours to cross the river. They used the dead slide which had been erected by the British Forces. After successfully crossing the river at two locations, the force spent the night preparing for the attack and establishing their line of departure.

Soldier # 1

“The enemy is suppose to be over here—twelve o’clock—right to our front. In a few more minutes it’s going to be the hour and at that time we are going to start to attack enemy base camp. we expect to be completed somewhere around zero six hundred thirty hours.”

William Neal

“The attack is now in full swing, the success now depends on the effectiveness of the ground troops.”

What had taken days of intensive research and planning was over in about fifteen minutes, but the triumph made it worthwhile.

Alan Usher

Alan Usher

“And it went exactly as plan—the fight a ground attack by the harrier started exactly on time, the defender run was exactly on time and the troops crossed both the line of departures at the time they were supposed to and assaulted the enemy position and cleared it up. As far as I’m concerned it was a very successful exercise. The objective of an exercise like this is to practice the force at all levels. First of all the command level to make sure that the chain of command works and the only way you can find that out is actually getting people on the ground giving orders and that same order being extracted and carried right down. So every single man knows exactly what he is meant to be doing, when he is to be doing it, carrying the right kit and doing it at the right time—it is called battle procedure.”

The execution of battle procedure however is not the only inspiration for the volunteers.

Volunteer #1

“The most thing I enjoy about it is the hardship we go through—it gives you total discipline and mind-control and you gain a lot of experience.”

William Neal

“What was the feeling like when you were told to attack?”

Volunteer #2

“It was a nice feeling, I just like this type of job from when I small. It makes we feel like a real soldier.”

Volunteer #3

“First experience and it feels like I come out ya wah thousand times before.”

William Neal

“What did you like more about the whole exercise?”

Volunteer #3

“Action pack mien.”

Volunteer #3

“The enjoyment that I get is that because we stay away from home for two weeks, try to be in the bush; going through the hard things that a soldier must always go through. So when we go through these hard things now, we know we can always be a soldier.”

Belizean volunteers have practiced soldiering at least since the Battle of St. George’s Caye. In 1798 however, the women wore skirts and carried parasols; not camouflage and machine guns.

Female Volunteer #1

“Well I join it to get the adventure training about it and I feel like the same thing a man can do , a woman can do up to a certain standard. So I join it because I like it too.”

Female Volunteer #2

“I like the jungle mien. I enjoy the jungle a lot. It is tough but I like it. And as long as you have the cooperation; we are there to help you. Don’t worry about nothing; you got to save your butt first or you wah dead.”

William Neal Reporting for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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