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May 24, 2023

125 Soldiers and Coast Guards Attend Military Training in Louisiana

This morning, the Philip Goldson International Airport was teeming with activity. Over a hundred and twenty Belize Defense Force soldiers and Belize Coast Guard officers left the country en route to Louisiana.  They will be spending the next three weeks away from home on a training exercise. The trip is the result of a partnership between the Belize Defense Force and the Louisiana National Guard. News Five’s Paul Lopez was there for their departure. Here’s the story.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

They gathered inside the Philip Goldson International Airport like a contingent of security forces called to action overseas. But, all one hundred and twenty-five men and women from the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard are boarding a flight bound for Louisiana.


Brigadier General Azariel Loria

Brigadier General Azariel Loria, Commander, Belize Defense Force

“First of all we got an invitation from the Louisiana National Guard. We have a very robust state partnership with them, with the United States of America and they invited us to attend their Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) located in Louisiana and parts of Alabama.”


The training is conducted every four years. A platoon of BDF volunteer soldiers was deployed in 2019 to participate in the training exercise. This is the first time that the Belize Coast Guard is sending a contingent of officers.


Elton Bennett

Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“It is very different than what we do on a day to day basis. What the GRTC will provide to the Belize Coast Guard is not within the first scope of duties the Belize Coast Guard performs. But it is very essential, something we learnt in the after action of Hurricane Lisa. The Belize Coast Guard will be required to work shoulder to shoulder with the Belize Defense Force in built up areas, especially in Belize City where our disaster relief efforts jointly really had a huge impact in Belize City alone.”


With eighteen years of service in the Belize Defense Force, Major Elmer Moh has been designated the Contingent Commander on this trip.

Elmer Moh

Major Elmer Moh, Contingent Commander

“My role as the contingent commander is actually to ensure that the troops move from Belize to Louisiana and by the time we finish the training come back to Belize and ensure they get all the training planned for them at Louisiana, coming to the small tactics and all the things they have to learn from our partners at the Louisiana National Guard. We have a lot of them that is the first time flying to the U.S., first time actually boarding a plane. So, they are excited about that. But they are more excited about going on the ground and doing what we do best, train and represent Belize.”


Brigadier General Azariel Loria

“They are going to do basic military training to refresh their skills. Their trained professional soldiers here, but we are going to do a little bit of joint training along with them, joint bi-national training where they are going to put into practice what they have so far and try to learn new military skills. They will be doing a lot of shooting. They are going to do military type operations, like defensive, offensive operations.”


Florencio Marin, the Minster of National Defense and Border Security, was present to wish the delegation great success as they gathered at the airport. Minister Marin says the skills they will acquire in Louisiana will prepare them for the challenges ahead.


Florencio Marin, Minister of National Defense and Border Security

“It is important that we get all this readiness training for our soldiers and this is one of the best opportunities we will be getting and that is why I felt it is important to be here for them to know that there government is with them, here to support them and it is always good to lift the moral of the troops.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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