During the passing out of the 60th intake of the Belize Defense Force last week, the National Security Minister used that opportunity to boast of several initiatives being undertaken under his portfolio. One of those was the pursuit of further education by some of the BDF soldiers.
“I am also happy to announce that two BDF officers recently returned from Taiwan with their medical degree and it will be just a matter of time before they start practicing medicine. The BDF now has its own legal advisor also, who after completing his law degree in Barbados and his certificate in legal education is now back with us working out of the Force Headquarters. Again, it’s just a matter of time before he is called to the bar where he will be a full fledged practicing attorney. As of yesterday, 6th August 2015, we had a total of 36 BDF officers and soldiers on overseas training, courses and conferences along with 25 others who are currently on study leave or who will be attending the ITVET. This is indeed a testament to the commitment of my government to providing the human resources that are certainly needed to effectively secure our borders and communities and are preparing our officers and soldiers with the knowledge of life outside the force.”
Earlier this year when we did an interview with the then Chief of Staff in the BDF, Lieutenant Colonel Asariel Loria, he had spoken to us on the various opportunities offered to not only the members of the Belize Defense Force but also civilians with an Associate’s Degree.
“We would want more candidates to be participating in such selection boards. As of recently we have noticed a drop and we would want to encourage the Belizean youth to come and partake. If he is successful in the officer selection process usually the candidates are sent to the United Kingdom to study for one year or they go to the United States Academy that is four years at West Point the Naval Academy and even the Coast Guard Academy. I think that Coast Guard Academy is in Virginia. Apart from that we send officers to the Guyana Defense Force so that they can come back and they become commissioned officers in the Belize Defense Force.”
“How does a process like that work because obviously only BDF soldiers, those who are currently enlisted in the force can qualify for those right?”
“Not only the Belize Defense Force enlisted; the criteria for that is that the person can’t only just come from the civilian world he has to be a Belizean by birth, between the ages of eighteen and twenty three years old, must possess a sixth form certificate, be in good physical health.”
“So civilians can qualify for this?”
“Yes, civilians do qualify and whenever we are doing our officer selection process we mostly look outside of the defense force for civilians to qualify.”
“It is strongly encouraged that civilians have 6th form diplomas and degrees whereby the enlisted may or may not have. It is very few of them that have sixth form level education.”
Loria is currently away pursuing further studies. The Chief of Staff for the BDF is Lieutenant Colonel Louis Sutherland.