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Jun 30, 2014

Battle Camp 2014 – B.D.F. & Louisiana National Guard train to take on the enemy

At D’Silva Camp in Mountain Pine Ridge, volunteers of the Belize Defense Force and soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard are engaged in Battle Camp 2014. They are undergoing rigorous training on how to fight the enemy, but they are also fighting the mountainous terrain and the humidity.  They are about to take on the Kaibiles, Guatemala’s elite force which specializes in jungle warfare tactics. The battle lines are drawn deep in the forests where the purported encroachment takes place. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was present for the combat and files this report. 



Isani Cayetano, Reporting

At eleven hundred hours, the distinct smell of cordite permeates the air.  The staccato chatter of gunfire is deafening, as a team of Belize Defense Force soldiers on patrol within the wilderness of Mountain Pine Ridge lays down a swath of suppressive cover.  What should have been a routine tour is now an all-out engagement with the enemy.  The unseen detail hidden several meters north of the tree line is believed to be the Kaibiles, a special operations force of the Military of Guatemala.  Somehow the unit has made its way deep into Belizean territory.


Donning improvised ghillie suits made of heavy foliage, the officers move in tactical formation, returning quick and clipped semiautomatic bursts from their assigned AR-15s.  It is uncertain how many casualties the Tangos have suffered during the firefight.  The BDF, on the other hand, have seen a few of their best men fall in combat.  Preparing a makeshift stretcher using forest litter, the wounded are being transported uphill to a landing zone for casualty evacuation by helicopter.


Back at the HQ, a comprehensive strategy is being mapped out by military brass.


“We will move our battalion.  That area is the Guacamallo Bridge, we will move through there and then we will destroy anything that gets into our path resembling enemy forces which is made up of the Draconian armed forces.  Marks in the map: the red mark represents enemy forces believed to be lurking in that area.”


Elsewhere in the dense jungle, another squad is advancing from the west.  To ambush the foe they will need to cross the Rio On.  After scouting the perimeter cautiously, a strong swimmer makes his way down a steep embankment before wading across the flowing water.  Once on the other side, he pulls a lightweight rope transversely and fastens one end to a tree near the river’s edge.  The same is done on the opposite bank.  Using a karabiner, the soldiers then individually attach themselves to the taut line.  One by one, slightly breaking the surface, they cross over while the remainder of the detachment stands guard.  For now, the Kaibiles have retreated farther east, completely unaware that less than a klick away the B.D.F., having crossed the Guacamallo Bridge at thirteen hundred hours, is quickly closing in on their location.


Battle Camp 2014 is a joint military exercise being conducted by volunteers of the Belize Defense Force and the Louisiana National Guard.


Felix Enriquez

Lt. Col. Felix Enriquez, Commander, Volunteer Battalion, Belize Defense Force

“It’s field craft, what we call field craft and it really tests the soldiers’ ability to seek, recognize and engage the enemy doing reconnaissance or doing a fight through.  What the soldier has to do is apply all the skills that he has learned in weapons handling, observation, moving behind and shooting from behind a safe area and engaging the enemy before the enemy engages him.  And so what we do in CQB practice is brief the soldier on a scenario that he has to go through a lane where there is enemy that he must recognize as we put targets as the enemies.  He has to go through and recognize the and we test them on how fast they do that and how they apply the drills to engage the target.”


Here from Lafayette, Louisiana as part of the exchange is Sergeant First Class Brandon Andrews.  The experience in jungle warfare is new to him.


Brandon Andrews

SFC Brandon Andrews, Louisiana National Guard, U.S. Army

“A lot of our tactics are the same but as far as jungle survival, I have no experience in that so we’re doing a lot of training in the jungle that I never got to experience so there’s lots of plant life that I’m not use, animals that we are learning to adapt to.  We’re getting taught medicines so it’s been pretty unique.”


Isani Cayetano

“What has the acclimatization been like in terms of getting use to the terrain, the environment around you and, of course, maybe in some cases, the interaction with members of another force?”


SFC Brandon Andrews

“The climate in Louisiana is similar because it’s hot and humid so that’s been nice but moving through the jungle, just moving through the woods it adds another element, you know, it makes it a lot more harder to move and difficult.”


Sarah Arzu

Comfortably at home with the rest of the battalion is Second Lieutenant Sarah Arzu.  She is one of a handful of enlisted women out here for the annual camp.


Second Lieutenant Sarah Arzu, Volunteer, Belize Defense Force

“I must say training was not that difficult for me being the physical person that I am but for my rank, the part of my rank, I joined the Belize Defense Force Volunteer Element in November 2008, after which I was selected to go and sit the Officer Selection Board which successfully did in December of that same year after which I was selected to go to OCS, Officer Cadet School in Alabama and to Louisiana for an advanced leadership course, as well as a warrior leadership course.”


The training, according to Brigadier General David Jones, enhances the soldiers’ approach to patrolling our borders, as well as the Chiquibul National Forest.


David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defense Force

“This is very important for them because this is exactly what the regular force is doing at this time.  This is the same type of terrain that we operate in Chiquibul Forest and fighting against illegal encroachment, goal panning and illegal loggers.  So for this two weeks they will learn the skills, basic skills of jungle warfare.  They start at subunit level at two man, then at four, then at section level and then it gradually goes up, up to company level size where guys can operate as a unit inside the jungle and there’s a survival phase inside for this particular exercise.  They will let them off into the jungle, they will have absolutely nothing to eat, nothing to drink, we’ll take away everything from them and just let them off into the jungle to survive for twenty-four hours.  So they need to find their own water, find their own food and they still need to conduct different exercise while here in the jungle.”


To successfully complete the rigorous exercise, each soldier has to rely heavily on situational awareness.


Lt. Col. Felix Enriquez

“We give them a scenario, make sure you dress for it, make sure you prepare for it, go through it and pass.  And it’s all part of what we train them in weapons handling throughout the year at the various volunteer training sites.”


A cursory look at all that has been outlined for the two-week course indicates that not all who have gathered for the annual camp will complete the drills satisfactorily. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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4 Responses for “Battle Camp 2014 – B.D.F. & Louisiana National Guard train to take on the enemy”

  1. Rod says:

    So why is there still so much encroament into Belize could it be the thieves without any training can still beat our bdf at the game perhaps the bdf is corrupt just like this pm and gov.

  2. Tired of Rod says:

    Find something else to do other than talk about corruption. Not that I condone corruption, but your comments never make any sense. It is so evident that you never understand the goal behind this initiative to train our soldiers. Someone, please block this “Rod” from making stupid comments on this blog.

  3. Rod says:

    Here we go again another ignoramus belizean damm where are all these dumb ass belizeans coming from must be the USA no wonder our poor country is going to pot because of all these stupid udp belizeans like this big idiot keeping known corrupt officials in office just because of the color of their skin how dumb can you be. Tiredofrod.

  4. Tired of Rod 2 says:

    you keep talking bulsh** about politics and even the BDF being corrupt. it is quite obvious about the numbers that make up the BDf and there is litle to say about it being impossible to keep track of all the border but again ‘Rod’ you wouldnt know that would you??.i say that the BDF is probably the only entity that trully serves the country no matter which corrupt or non corrupt government runs the country. But again ungrateful ppl like urself woudnt knw dat

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