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Brigadier General Steven Ortega takes over Command of the BDF

The Belize Defense Force today celebrated its 40th anniversary. To observe this milestone achievement, the BDF also saw the passing out of recruit intake 63. Additionally, Brigadier General David Jones officially handed over the Command of the BDF to Brigadier General Steven Ortega, who has been holding over the Command since December last year after former Commander, Brigadier General David Jones retired. He had been in Command of Belize’s military for four years.  The incoming Commander, Brigadier General Steven Ortega was born and raised in Esperanza Village in the Cayo District. He attended Sacred Heart College and Belize Technical College before joining the BDF in 1990. From there he went on to pursue higher academia at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and by 1992 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of the BDF. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Royal College of Defence Studies in London where received a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies. He has served in the BDF for twenty-seven years. Today he shared his sentiments on his new achievement in the force.

Brigadier General Steven Ortega – BDF Commander

“It’s a blessing and it’s a really an honor to be named the 8th Belizean Commander of the Belize Defense Force so it’s really a blessing and privilege to be placed in this position. I can see us maintaining the professionalism that we have an improving on what we have. We have a lot more collaboration with our international partners especially with the threat situation now that we face now from transnational criminals; not only that but if you notice the new phenomenon now of Tsunami so natural disasters you know we are one of the primary agents for the government in terms of recovery search and rescue. So those are some of the duties that I see us starting to implement  and trying to improve on what we have so far.”

Commander Brigadier General Steven Ortega is also a recipient of the BDF’s Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and the Force’s Certificate of Distinguished Service. As mentioned before, the event also saw the passing out of the 63rd recruit intake. All 89 new soldiers were welcomed into the force after enduring the heavy rain. 

Brigadier General Steven Ortega – BDF Commander

 “This is the start of training for them so there is always continuous training afterwards. Recruit training is where we convert the civilian into the military person so it’s difficult in the beginning, as you noticed he mentioned how many were there previously and how many we left with; only 89. So it takes quite a bit of discipline especially in terms of the physical demand and the mental portion of it in that you have to do all the physical work, you are up early, you go to sleep late plus you have all the classes, the medical classes, skill at arms which is weapons handling, map reading and all the various different types of classes that you have to do such as signals etc. Immediately upon passing out from recruit training they are now fully trained soldiers as most soldiers are out here. Some have special skills but they are now qualified to go out to all the CPs, OPs to do patrols along with all the other senior members.”

The celebrations continue tomorrow as the force holds BDF Day activities at Price Barracks on Saturday, 27th January.