In latter June when the Tradewinds Exercise 2015 was about to conclude, Love News had spoken with the Commander of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General David Jones, who boasted that jungle training is what his soldiers know best. So much so, that the BDF, for some time now have begun exploring ways in making Belize the venue for military units around the world to recognize and use as a jungle warfare training facility.
“Belize has probably the best jungle training facility in the world, hands down, I believe so. The British have been using Brunei for some years and they’ve compared it to Belize and Belize hands down, I believe is the best. The British are looking at coming back here to Belize, they still use Belize as a jungle training facility. The jungle can be your friend or your enemy, the jungle is what the BDF does best; we are good at jungle training, so we are showcasing ourselves in this opportunity, the jungles of Belize and we are showcasing our instructors and our facility with the intent of having a premier jungle ware fare instructor school being run here in Belize by the BDF. Perhaps jointly partnered with our nations perhaps with the British or the US Marines or other special forces but having Belize as the focal point is the aim for us now to get Belize on the map as a premier jungle warfare instructor training facility throughout the world.”
Today, when we met up with the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Retired Colonel George Lovell, we asked him for an update on how the idea is progressing to have Belize be the focal point for jungle training.
“For quite some time now the Belize Defense Force has been conducting international jungle training in Belize. We have trained the Dutch, we have trained the French, we have trained the British and I believe, American personnel at our jungle training facility. There have been recent discussions with the British and Americans for us to look at an international jungle training facility. The British in particular are very interested in having a coordinated approach to this facility and we have been working closely together to try and see what can be done in this regard. I can tell you that the Dutch Marines are currently in training at the facility and this is being coordinated through BATSUB. We are hoping that we will be able to expand this and quite soon and soon can be relative. The British has a plan to increase their presence here in Belize even if it’s not going to be a permanent presence their training is certainly going to increase. I can tell you that last year we had about three or so training exercises that took place this year we are looking at about five and hopefully we are going to increase on that. The discussion continues and it is something that I hope within the next years or so we will have a definite international jungle training facility that is co-run and cosponsored by both the British and Belize.”
We also asked Lovell to speak on the benefits he sees for Belize once these plans are realized.
RETIRED COLONEL GEORGE LOVELL
“First of all, I can see increase in terms of employment. As you know when we had British Army here in Belize there was quite a great deal of individuals who were employed to provide the sort of administrative support that large units need in Belize. So I am seeing employment as being one of the benefits. I am seeing more being put into our economy in terms of the spending that they will have because all their supplies will come from local vendors and sources. There will be an economic boost and employment. We also see with increase with British and American troops being here there will also be benefit for our defense force personnel in terms of training and equipment. So, we see this as an opportunity for us to be able to enhance the capacity of the BDF and also the economic benefits that I spoke of earlier.”
So far, Belize has hosted military personnel from Britain, United States, Dutch and other nations for jungle training.