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Mar 12, 2009

U.S. government donates $1.4 million in equipment to B.D.F.

Story PictureThe Belize Defence Force received a handsome addition to its fleet of vehicles and supply of equipment. The donation from the United States government was today handed over at Price Barracks by the US Charge’ D’Affairs, A.J. Diffily and in attendance for the presentation, were the top ranks of the B.D.F., other soldiers and the Minister of National Security, Carlos Perdomo. News Five’s Delahnie Bain was in Ladyville for this morning’s handing over.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting
The issue of trans-national crimes is a growing concern in many countries, particularly the U.S., Mexico and Central America. The gift of three trucks and a wide range of equipment now added to the B.D.F.’s inventory is expected to enhance the force’s operations and will form a part of the cooperation between the countries to intercept illegal trades.

Brig. Gen. Dario Tapia, Commander, Belize Defence Force
“It comprises of three Ford F-450 Pickup trucks, an array of radios with the ancillaries, GPS, compasses, gun holsters and repair parts for our weapon systems. In addition, night vision goggles are also being gifted. The pickup trucks are a welcome addition to our vehicle fleet and will greatly assist to mobilize members of the force and vessels in a timely fashion to carry out the interdiction tasks against the drug trafficking trade. Over the years the force has faced many challenges in regards to communication with units deployed on operation and today’s donation will significantly enhance and provide reliable tactical communication. The night vision goggles will enable us to conduct night operations like never before.”

The donation was made possible through the United States 1206 funding of the United States Department of Defence, through the U.S. Southern Command and according to Charge’ D’Affairs, J.A. Diffily, financing for the one point four million dollar project came from several sources.

J.A. Diffily, US Charge D’Affairs
“Funds from programs such as the United States Department of Defence Counter Drug Assistance Program, Enduring Friendship and the Global Peace Keeping initiative make today’s donation possible. In addition, earlier this year the US M.L.O., through the US Southern Command, and with the assistance of the US Embassy donated about one point two million Belize in various repair parts, equipment and supplies to the Belize Defence Force and the Belize National Coastguard.”

Belize’s position on the map has made the country a transhipment point in international illegal trades and Minister of National Security, Carlos Perdomo, says the new equipment is right in line with national security strategy unveiled last year and will bolster efforts in combating these trans-national crimes.

Carlos Perdomo, Minister of National Security
“The receipt of this equipment comes at an opportune time, when our fight against trans-national crime is at an all time high throughout all of the Caribbean, throughout Central America, and particularly in Mexico and the United States. As more effort is made to address, especially drug trafficking to our north, we have to be very mindful of the spill over effects that we might face.”

And this donation is not the last as Diffily says there are more projects in the works for Belize under the Merida Initiative, which is also aimed at combating trans-national drug trafficking.

A.J. Diffily
“We’re looking at actually expanding the Merida Initiative. We’re working with the Military Liaison with this 1206, these projects which we’ve done. This is the second hand over of equipment that we’ve done and then a couple weeks ago I signed a letter of agreement with Minister Perdomo for a million dollars of Merida Initiative funding and that’s more directed toward the police. But the police and B.D.F. cooperate very well so there will be a certain amount of synergy from that contribution.”

While the Merida Initiative is still at an early stage, Diffily is optimistic that it will play a major role in reducing trans-national crimes. Delahnie Bain for News Five.


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