Where is the Minister of National Security, John Saldivar? That was the question on most everyone’s mind as the Belize Defence Force had their anniversary celebration and their 65th intake of soldiers. At 2:30 this afternoon, 101 recruits passed out into the Belize Defence Force as part of the latest intake. The men and women in this intake underwent rigorous training for several weeks. At the ceremony, the Governor-General of Belize, Sir Colville Young conducted an inspection of the Parade which was then followed by a Parade March slow and quick time. Finally, several recruits were awarded for their achievements by the Governor-General. After the presentations of awards, the Minister of National Security was to deliver his Keynote address but as we said, he was notably absent at the ceremony. The speech was delivered by Minister of Human Development, Anthony “Boots” Martinez.
Hon.Anthony Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “With your continued support the level and standard of our selection process maintains it’s fairness and rigor. After the initial exam it only gets more challenging. The BDF recruit training is designed to make you tougher both mentally and physically and only the strongest survive. It involves physical training, practical and theoretical courses extending well into the night. Today’s graduation indicates they have all displayed satisfactory proficiency in foot drills, skills and arms, first aid, map reading, navigation, military communication, the law of armed conflict, tactics both conventional and non conventional, jungle warfare and internal security. These new soldiers will bring added reinforcements to the BDF and allow the force to be better out of its mandate to defend the territorial integrity of Belize.”
According to the Commander of the BDF, Brigadier General Steven Ortega, this is the first time, since he’s taken office, that the Minister of Security has been absent. Brigadier Ortega noted that it brings him pride to have 101 soldiers join the force.
Brig. Gen. Steven Ortega, Commander, Belize Defence Force: “I’m intake twenty seven so that was a little while ago and I know how this moment feels like when you’re out there in the square and coming off and now being the General commanding the force I also feel that same excitement that I did so many years ago because I know how they’re feeling right now to finally graduate and basically become shoulder to shoulder with the other guys who have been doing this job for so many years so I’m quite sure it’s a great feeling for them. In the earlier times there was pure female and there was pure male but we have integrated them for some years now. There’s always between ten and twenty who pass out every year, I don’t have the exact data.”
Commander Ortega noted that these soldiers undergo intense training that prepares them for war. Today also marks the 42nd anniversary of the Belize Defence Force.