Guyana Defence Force Website Banner

GDF and UG sign MOU on academic partnership

The Guyana Defence Force and the University of Guyana have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at concretising the relationship between the two institutions. The MOU speaks directly to an academic partnership between the GDF and UG. Signing on behalf of the GDF was Chief of Staff Brigadier Patrick West, while UG Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith was the university’s signatory.

In brief remarks prior to the signing, Professor Griffith noted that the GDF is a critical partner of UG, and is consistent with its delivery of high service. Quoting George Santayana – “to know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than to what they say…” the professor asked that we “…look at the evidence of the doing.” He pointed out that today’s signing of the MOU is evidence of the importance of education for Guyana’s Officers. Lauding the UG/GDF relationship, regarding institutional thrusts, he said, “We have a critical role in not only ensuring our nation’s individual mandate to us……there are many elements which will require educational collaboration which is critical and necessary, not simply desirable. There are other kinds of relationship building (as well).”

He also spoke to the possibility of the university and the GDF collaborating, to enable officers who are about to retire and move to a different phase of their lives, to leverage learning and skills in order to continue contributing to national development. In this regard he posited the need for a review of the age at which citizens retire, noting that in Guyana many retirees still have much that they can contribute toward nation building. The professor then thanked all the Officers of the GDF as well as his university team and several others, who have worked on the construction of the agreement and who will continue to work on its implementation.

In his remarks, Brigadier Patrick West expressed his pleasure at signing the MOU which, he said, “…will enhance the academic programme of Standard Officers Course #50 and future Standard Officers Courses, and, at the same time, develop the Agriculture Corps as a Research Centre with the University of Guyana. Brigadier West explained that since its formation in 1968, the Corps has evolved into a demonstration farm for schools and other educational institutions. The Agriculture Corps, he said, has also partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture on a national swine feeding programme. Brigadier West explained too, that the GDF/UG partnership with regard to the Agriculture Corps aims to facilitate academic cooperation, establish and implement mutually beneficial training programmes, and develop research collaborations.

Briefly outlining the formation and evolution of the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School, the Chief of Staff it was the Officer Cadet division of Training Corps which evolved into the first Officer Cadet School in the English-speaking Caribbean. “It was named in honour of the first Commander of the Force, Colonel Ulric Pilgrim, who charged the Cadets to aim for high standards, at the school’s establishment in September of 1981,” he observed.  “To date, forty-nine courses have been conducted. So as I sign, I do so being cognizant of the fact that I am building on the foundation which was laid by my predecessors,” he added.

Brigadier West explained that the GDF/UG  initiative was undertaken to ensure that  a more rounded and educated officer is prepared to fulfil his role in promoting Total National Defence. “In this regard,” he said, “the officer will not only be involved in a horizontal relationship between the Defence Force and the Militia and Police, but also a vertical relationship at the central and Regional levels. Additionally, the partnership intends to ensure the achievement of international comparability with the officer’s counterparts, and, given the ability at an earlier stage, the officer will be better positioned for more strategic deployment in an operational space. It will also limit the time away from work when officers have to go through critical learning and maturing stages,” he added.

Emphasising the forward progression for future Officer Training, the Chief of Staff pointed out that as a result of the GDF/UG collaboration, GDF Officer Training will be on par with other international programmes. ‘The duration of (Officer Cadet) training will now run for twenty-four months, and, upon graduation,  the officers will not only receive their Instruments of Commission to command and lead in this Force, but also an Associate Degree from the University of Guyana. We maintain that today we are still the only successful Officer Cadet programme in the English-speaking Caribbean and we will continue to support the training of officers for the Joint Services and the Caribbean,” he said.

Brigadier West thanked the members of the GDF Academic Board along with Professor Griffith and his team from the university for their commitment and dedication to seeing the historic agreement become a reality.

As it stands, the Officer Cadets currently on Standard Officers’ Course #50 are the first cohort to enjoy training under this agreement.

The signing of the MOU took place this morning at the Officer’s Mess at Base Camp Ayanganna. The University of Guyana team led by Professor Griffith included, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Engagement Professor Michael Scott, Principal Academic Engagement Officer Mrs. Sharon Roopchand-Edwards, Academic Officer for Partnerships and Internships Mr. Odwin Rutherford, Dean of Agriculture and Forestry Mr. Owen Bovell, and Assistant Registrar Admissions Ms. Nickalva Washington. The GDF team led by the Chief of Staff included Commandant Guyana People’s Militia Colonel Gary Beaton, Commanding Officer Training Corps Lieutenant Colonel Julius Skeete, Staff Officer One General One Lieutenant Colonel Lorraine Foster, Staff Officer One General Six Commander Roger Nurse, and Staff Officer One General Five (ag) Major Michael Shahoud.