A Strategic Forward Operating Base was opened on Hunting Caye on Wednesday. The facility, was completed with the assistance of the US Southern Command. Minister of National Security, John Saldivar says the base is a critical point for deterring illicit activities.
Minister of National Security, John Saldivar: Hunting Caye has been an integral part of the defense and security of Belize from as far back as in 1980’s during the British Forces defense Garrison, the strategic importance of these chain of islands known as the Sapodilla Caye was observed to be a critical location which marks the territorial seas of Belize. Hunting Caye is located at the Northern Apex of the Belize Honduras Guatemala Maritime border and it provides that forward deployment from where we can project sea power in encountering transnational organized crime. Increasingly in recent years, drug trafficking and weapons and human smuggling routes transit Belize from South to North. The ramping up of transnational crime therefore makes this point for the critical location for the deterrence of elicit activates for us and for our regional partners. The construction of this facility has several impacts on the Coast Guard operations, first and foremost this facility is a much needed replacement for the existing structure that had become delaminated over time. This is a demonstration of long term investment and indication that the coast guard will be at hunting caye for decades to come. This long term infrastructure investment translates to opportunities to strategic planning for the conduct of Coast Guard operations.
The base can accommodate a crew of fifteen. The facility also allows the crew to stay for an extended period of time and is designed to accommodate women officers. Lieutenant Colonel Aldridge Singleton, Senior Defense official and Defense Attaché for US Embassy spoke of the US Southern Command’s input.
Lieutenant Colonel Aldridge Singleton, Senior Defense official and Defense Attaché for US Embassy: It stands to show a great amount of collaboration coordination between the governments of Belize and the United States Government. United States southern command put in some potential investment into this project in order to assist and it was great to see how the Belizean Government was able to bring this project to completion so an investment of $2,000,000 come to show a real operational capability that is now to the benefit of the Belizean people and I think one of the great things about a station like this is that it also allows us to project the Belizean sovereignty in order to truly show that they are accountable for and they are holding people to the standards of Maritime law and so many different pieces of Security Apparatus that makes Belize the great place that it is.
The National Security Council has approved the establishment of a Coast Guard Station in Punta Gorda. Minister Saldivar adds that the Sector South headquarters in Big Creek is still in the pipeline and will serve as a headquarters for coast guard operations in southern Belize. The Government is also looking at purchasing new patrol boats for the Coast Guard.