When the announcement came from the Government of Belize regarding the construction of the Forward Operating Base, the intentions expressed were to have both Belize Defense Force and Belize Coast Guard personnel manning the fort. It has been some months now since the base was officially opened and according to a source from within the Ministry of National Security, there seems to be some reluctance in having the coast guard at the Sarstoon. We can only surmise that it is due to the Commander’s no-tolerance approach to the incursions happening at the Sarstoon but according to the Chief Executive Officer, Retired Colonel George Lovell, that is not the case. Here is how he explained the absence of the Belize Coast Guard.
“My understanding is that the Coast Guard needs to have a team that can operate as a team at that location. I am currently working with the commander of the Belize Defense Force to see how we can accommodate that. They had initially two people placed out there but they can operate with two people, that is the coast guard they cannot operate with two people and certainly it is the Ministry of National Security’s intention for us to have a joint base as we had intended for it to be in the first instance. Coast Guard were out there for a very short time but they cannot operate with just two people they need to have the right compliment for them to be effective in carrying out their mandate. As you know the military and the coast guard they will have two separate mandates while they are out there; the coast guard will enforce all those fisheries regulations and everything else that are not of the FOB while the military will be looking after what occurs along the Sarstoon and so they are two separate mandates. What we need to do is look at how we can have the numbers portioned so that both of them can carry out their mandate effectively.”