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Nov 2, 2016

Louisiana National Guard and B.D.F. Celebrate 20 Years of Partnership

On Tuesday, the Belize Defence Force and the Louisiana National Guard reached a milestone in their state partnership program. It has been twenty years since Louisiana and Belize have been partnering on several local and regional programs including trainings in the jungle, disaster response and infrastructure. The mutually beneficial partnership has grown from year to year and so it was only fitting that the twentieth anniversary be celebrated in grand style at the Price Barracks. We were invited for the parade ceremony which Andrea Polanco attended. She tells us how far the Louisiana-Belize partnership has come since it started back in 1996.


Carlos Moreno

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Defence Force and the Louisiana National Guard celebrated twenty years of partnership on Tuesday. Officials from the Louisiana National Guard and Belize gathered at the Price Barracks to commemorate the milestone. A  B.D.F. parade opened the day’s celebration and it culminated with a short fly-over and a symbolic gift.The Louisiana-Belize partnership has grown into one of the State Partnership Program’s oldest, most successful and long lasting partnerships in the world. The work of the Louisiana National Guard and B.D.F. extends outside of Belize over the years. For the US, Belize has proven to be a valuable partner in the areas of medical and jungle warfare training.


Carlos Moreno, US Ambassador to Belize

“The idea is to exchange techniques, and skills and training, resources and materials so that each side can benefit from that relationship. Over the years, the relationship here has focused primarily on natural disasters relief and training. Also it has been involved in regional missions, for example in 2010 and 2011, a combination of B.D.F. and Louisiana National Guard units that provided disaster relief assistance in Haiti and they also provide engineering skills. Along with the B.D.F., the National Guard has renovated a number of schools throughout Belize and built other types of infrastructure that are really for the well-being of the country. One of the things that I am most proud of is the medical training that is provided in conjunction with Jungle Warfare Training. Belize is an ideal location for that and the Louisiana National Guards men go out in the jungle with Belizean soldiers and practice survival skills and other types of things that are essential for dealing with that very hostile environment. But in particular, the training includes how to respond to medical emergencies. The National Guard provides emergency kits for the B.D.F. soldiers and those kits are usually left with the backpacks in the B.D.F. soldiers materials and supplies.”


In 1996, the partnership started with seminars and conferences aimed at the B.D.F.’s volunteer battalion. But since then, the B.D.F. and the Louisiana National Guard have hosted over two hundred and fifty events and expert exchanges in a number of areas. For the B.D.F., the training of their volunteers is a critical part of the programme.


David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.

“It was developed mainly for the volunteer battalion to give them the opportunity to see how the national guard work; which is a similar organization in the US Army as we have in Belize and to develop our volunteer battalion. It stretched out to assistance that has been given to the regular force and officers being trained from the volunteers in Louisiana. So, we’ve had in excess of ten who have gone to Louisiana to do the training and they have brought back that experience with them here to Belize to provide that leadership that we need in the volunteers.”


The cooperation is aimed at natural disaster preparation, medical response, leadership development skills, maintenance, as well construction programmes, and other key areas to professionalize both the B.D.F. and LNG.  While these areas will continue to be expanded, a completely new programme is already in the pipeline for Belize.


Glenn Curtis

Major General Glenn Curtis, Adjutant General of Louisiana National Guard

“At the basis of this twenty year relationship is to try to professionally develop both of our organizations; the B.D.F. and Louisiana National Guard. Through that, we have worked on construction project together for years. We have trained together in numerous environments and we do everything from personnel, data tracking, and maintenance, medical, security aspects and jungle training. It is all to make us both more effective organizations. What was in the early years kind of a strict exchange program, is now really a mature one. We go way beyond our relationship with the B.D.F.  We work now with the Coast Guard, NEMO and other Belize agencies.”


Andrea Polanco

“Do you have any particular plans in the pipeline that you will be doing, partnering with the B.D.F.?”


Major General Glenn Curtis

“I know one of the B.D.F.’s future plans is to do a youth challenge program for at risk youth. So, we already had some discussion with them on that; showed them our programme. We graduate about one thousand four hundred kids a year from that Youth Challenge Program; helped them get their high school diplomas give them some Job skills and life coping skills. Whatever we have if Belize decides to do that, what we have in the way of structural materials or any type of experience  that we have learned we will pass that on and continue that partnership in that direction.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


A group of B.D.F. soldiers, along with Commander Jones, departed today for Louisiana to celebrate there with a similar parade with the National Guard counterpart.

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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