Thursday, October 29, 2015: Aaron Humes Reporting: Members of the British Army Training and Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) have been training in Belize after 4 years of scaled back activity.
In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron and the British Military brass decided that it would cut back on military bases worldwide. At that time, the British were focusing their military energies on Iraq and Afghanistan. The Belize Government and the Belize Defence Force (BDF) have been lobbying to return the force to previous levels and it seems the British have agreed.
Lieutenant General James Rupert Everard, the Commander of the British Army’s Land Forces, is the highest ranking British Soldier to ever visit Belize. In speaking to what the new BATSUB would look like, General Everard said the complement of 900 soldiers in training would be increased to over 2,000 next year and there would greater emphasis in working with the BDF.
But he noted that the presence would still be smaller than what was previously established due to the “dreadful” austerity measures imposed by the Home Government. Visitors would be limited to the southern company exercise, the battalion exercise and each one of those exercises bring in with it a training team that will work alongside Belize’s defence forces, hopefully to mutual benefit.
Even more importantly for Everard, air support to the BDF is expected to be reestablished. He spoke of a multinational cooperation meeting with the U.S. and Canadian forces to move that forward.
General Jones said General Everard’s visit, quote, “shows the keen interest that the British army has to come back to Belize and the support that their keen to provide to the Belize defence force. It signifies that there is going to be greater cooperation from what occurred in 2011 when they had down sized of their unit here. He is the person that will actually make the decision; whatever decision he makes will happen. So he’s here to personally see what’s happening in Belize, what’s available for the British army to do and what level of cooperation can be given to the Belize defence force. After meetings that I will have with him today and discussions he will have with the Prime Minister. We will hear from him before he leaves in regards to what level of support batsub will be here in Belize and what level of support the British army will be supporting Belize and the Belize defence force in particular.”
Also visiting as of Tuesday was Major General Edward Smyth-Osburne, the General Officer Commanding London District.
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