Earlier this year when the Belize Defense Force was taking applications for its 60th intake of recruits, they had received one hundred applications. Today, four months later, there are eighty one men who passed out as part of the BDF’s 60th Intake. Love News was there and following all the pomp and circumstance, Commander of the BDF, Brigadier General David Jones spoke to us on the intake and the intensity of the 17-week training.
“We’ve been authorized an additional 200 men about a year ago and we are in the process of achieving that. We are three quarters of the way and now these recruits that have been trained in tactics, field craft, first aid, weapons handling are now going to join the ranks and man the borders and do the patrols that we require them to do for the interest of national security and sovereignty for Belize. Earlier in training they are usually up by about 4am; they do what they call fatigues where they do chores around the camp. After that they would be going for their physical training at least 5am. They start running on the road, they do that for about forty-five minutes to an hour or so and then they go for breakfast and then they go into classes depending on what is being taught for the day either first aid tactics, field craft, weapons handling or whatever military discipline they need to learn for that day. Champion Field Craft that is given to the recruit who is able to maneuver himself particularly in woody terrain in the jungle that can move swiftly, quietly, without being seen and can engage and take out the enemy easily and above the abilities of the rest of the soldiers in the intake. Champion PT which is Champion physical training that is the soldier that has displayed the best physical ability throughout the training be it on the physical run or on the endurance run they do in the jungle or in any other terrain that they perform in, he is the one that would be left with that extra energy to take on different task because of his physical prowess.”
As we mentioned earlier, there were no females in this intake, Commander Jones, however, told us that for the next intake, the force has already received applications from several females. As with all graduation ceremony, there are those who are recognized for outstanding performance and this was no different as four recruits were given champion awards. Udiel Barrientos of Punta Gorda Town was awarded for Champion Fieldcraft; Peter Pow of Big Falls Village, Toledo District, was awarded for Champion PT; Kalime Lewis of Scotland Halfmoon Village, Belize District was recognized as the Champion Shot and J-Martin Carrias of Santa Familia Village, Cayo District was named the Champion Recruit. We got to meet these four awardees and we spoke to them on their experience and aspirations.
“The award was given to me because I worked hard for it when we were in our final exercise that took place at Mountain Pine Ridge. I proceeded with all that was taught to me theoretically and physically. While we were on our final exercise I executed all my drills that we taught to me by my instructor. I always had the aspiration of becoming a Belize Defense Force solider so what I did, I studied hard and I did everything that fell under camouflage which is concealment by defeating the enemy’s observation. When I came to training on the fifth of April I came with a high morale, I was always motivated by my squad instructor.”
“Anytime during the training did you want to quit or give up? Did you have second thoughts?”
“Well I can’t give up because I really want the job so I did it and I worked very hard for it.”
“Did you expect to be awarded?”
“Yes ma’am because I work real hard and it’s something I really wanted and I want to be a sniper for the Belize Defense Force.”
“What made you join the BDF?”
“I joined because it is a stable foundation and this is my life and this is what I wanted.”
“From I was little I wanted to be a soldier because I have a lot of family over here and I just look at them and I want to be like them.”
“How would you describe the training?”
“It’s a tough training and yes there were times that I wanted to quit but my instructors they advised me to stay because it’s a good career and I didn’t quit.”
Today’s graduation ceremony began at nine o’clock this morning and saw the presence of the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Colville Young; Minister of National Security, John Saldivar; Chief Executive Officer of National Security, Retired Colonel George Lovell as well as other invited guests and family members of the newly recruited soldiers. Minister Saldivar also recognized the presence of Cedric Borland, who once served in the BDF and also as the Commander of the Belize Coast Guard from 2005 – 2009. Borland is now retired from the Belize Defense Force after he had passed out in the 5th Intake of the BDF. The first intake for the Belize Defense Force was in 1989.