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May 17, 2019

BSAG Storms the Old Petrojam Building in Libertad

The Belize Defence Force is in the process of culminating its Belize Special Assignment Group special operator course and today, one of several exercises was carried out by a cohort of soldiers that made the cut to participate in the programme. After ten weeks of specialised training to increase their competencies in these military disciplines, eleven of them executed their mission staged at the Libertad Sugar Factory, Corozal District. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

As early as five a.m. today, recruits in the Belize Special Assignments Group carried out a direct assault on Libertad Sugar Factory and captured persons of interest in a high profile case. It was like an action movie, complete with choppers descending on the area as elite soldiers secured the perimeter. Within minutes, a barrage of bullets is fired in an attempt to neutralise the enemy and contain the situation. It was a testing exercise for eleven operators.


Zenon Ciego

Captain Zenon Ciego, Second in Command, Belize Special Assignment Group

“We gave them a realistic scenario, pose that problem to them and they had to come up with a realistic plan using real time assets—such as whatever maritime assets, road assets, trucks, vehicles and whatnot and ‘helo’ assets, our rotary wing.”


The programme is not for the faint of heart and only a select few have been able to make the cut. Captain Zenon Ciego says that close to a hundred soldiers had interest and after a rigorous recruitment process only a few were accepted. Even so, the intensity of the programme reduced the numbers drastically.


Captain Zenon Ciego

“It’s a ten-week long process, essentially taking men from the regular Belize Defense Force and then transforming them into special operators. It is not an overnight process. Before these men even earn their ticket to start the course, they must initially go through a selection process which is a seven-day process that most men have related to seven days of hell. It tests their physical attributes, their mental fortitude and emotional stability. Once we are satisfied that they have covered all those three basis, then they qualify themselves it start the operator course.  We had about ninety persons sign up. From that ninety persons, only fifty-odd made it on to qualify to start selection. From that fifty-odd, only forty-two showed up to start selection. And from that forty-something, only twenty-seven passed to start completed selection. And from that twenty-seven that completed selection and started the course, we are only down to eleven so the attrition rate is quite high.”


The BSAG is a dedicated group of soldiers who work to support various departments including police, immigration and provide security to the citizenry.


Captain Zenon Ciego

“We ramp it up to bring them into a more closed setting such as an urban environment and the factors that affect operating in an urban environment. We sensitize them to policing cause we work closely with the police; our role is to allow them to do their jobs by providing security. Then we move them into to jungle environment, which is our mainstay as the B.D.F.  We are a jungle operating force. And then we go again over the basics and then teach them to operate in a specialized unit in the jungle; more dangerous patrols, scaling cliffs and rock faces and whatnot. So those are stuff that the regular B.D.F. don’t do but we do. We then start to work on the blue phase—working on the river and doing river inserts by ‘helo.’ So jumping off the ‘helo’ into the river and using the boats to insert into operating areas by boats. And then we move to the live firing phase which is building their marksmanship principles and allowing them to reach a certain shooting standard on this course.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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