Guyana Defence Force


The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is the military of Guyana, established in 1965. It has military bases across the nation.[4] The Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force is always the incumbent President of Guyana.[5]

Guyana Defence Force
Guyana Defence Force Crest.svg
GDF emblem
Flag of the Guyana Defence Force.svg
Guyana Defence Force flag
Founded1 November 1965 (de facto)
22 May 1966 (de jura)[1]
Service branches
  • Army
  • Air Corps
  • Coast Guard
Commander-in-ChiefMohamed Irfaan Ali
Chief of StaffGodfrey Bess
Military age18 years of age
Active personnel4600
Reserve personnel3000
Deployed personnel4600
Percent of GDP1.69% (2018)[3]
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
HistoryRupununi Uprising
RanksMilitary ranks of Guyana


The GDF was formed on 1 November 1965. Members of the new Defence Force were drawn from the British Guiana Volunteer Force (BGVF), Special Service Unit (SSU), British Guiana Police Force (BGPF) and civilians. Training assistance was provided by British instructors.

In January 1969, the GDF faced their first test when the Rupununi Uprising, a bloody separatist movement in southern Guyana, attempted to annex the territory to Venezuela that was contained 3 days later with a balance of between 70 and 100 dead.

In August 1969 the GDF launch a surprise attack code name Operation Climax to remove Suriname military personnel from the New River Triangle. The operation was executed with maximum precision and the Suriname ultimate decision was a hasty withdrawal. To date, this operation remains one of the most successful ventures of the Force.[6]

The GDF is an integral part of the Guyanese nation. Resources and equipment of the GDF are used to help other Guyanese; examples include medical mercy flights and the construction of roads and airstrips by the Engineering Corps.

Enlistment into the force is voluntary for officers and soldiers. Basic training is done within GDF training schools, which has also trained officers and soldiers from Commonwealth Caribbean territories. However, officers are trained at one of two British officer training schools: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (Infantry Training) and Britannia Royal Naval College (Coast Guard Training).

The training and skills gained by the members of the GDF have been used when they move either into civilian life or into the sister military organizations, the Guyana People's Militia (now the Second Infantry Battalion Group Reserve, which numbers around 3,000 reservists) and formerly the Guyana National Service (disbanded in 2000).

Role of the GDFEdit

  • Defend the territorial integrity of Guyana.
  • Assist the civil power in the maintenance of law and order when required to do so.
  • Contribute to the economic development of Guyana.


GDF Force Colour
GDF Coast Guard flag
GDF Air Corps flag
  • 1st Infantry Battalion Group
  • 3rd Infantry Battalion
  • 2nd Infantry Battalion Group Reserve (formerly the Guyana People's Militia)
  • 31 Special Forces Squadron
  • 21st Artillery Company
  • Engineer Battalion
  • Signals Corps
  • Defence Headquarters
  • Training Corps
  • Intelligence Corps
  • Coast Guard
  • Band Corps
  • Medical Corps
  • Air Corps

1st Infantry Battalion GroupEdit

In the 1980s, Guyana National Service provided infantry battalions for use by the GDF for the purposes of national security. Those battalions were amalgamated in 1988 to form what is now the 1st Infantry Battalion Group. The now combined battalion is today required to carry out the tasks protecting the country in case of wartime and to help the local authorities in emergency situations.[7]

GDF Band CorpsEdit

The Guyana Defence Force Band Corps is the official musical unit of the GDF whose role is to provide musical accompaniment for ceremonial functions of the GDF.[8] The members were drawn from the Rifle Companies and the defunct Volunteer Force and were brought out during regimental military parades. The Guyana Defence Force Steel Band would soon follow the main band's lead after its own establishment in 1970, three years after the original band was founded.[9]

Medical CorpsEdit

The Medical Corps provides medical and dental care to all the members of the GDF and their immediate families. It often liaises with the Health ministry for medical procedures and protocol to be carried out effectively. The corps is situated in Base Camp Ayanganna which includes facilities such as a medical laboratory and a dental lab.[10]

Chief of StaffEdit

  •   Acting
No. Portrait Name
Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Colonel
Ronald Pope
May 1967 March 1969 1 year, 10 months [11]
2 Brigadier
Clarence Price
March 1969 12 July 1979 10 years, 4 months [12]
3 Major general
Norman Gordon Mc Lean
12 July 1979 March 1990 10 years, 7 months [13]
4 Major general
Joseph Singh
March 1990 April 2000 10 years, 1 month [14]
5 Major general
Michael Atherly
April 2000 31 May 2004 4 years, 1 month [15]
6 Major general
Edward Orin Collins
(born 1945)
31 May 2004 2007 2–3 years [16]
7 Rear admiral
Gary Best
(born 1959)
2007 September 2013 5–6 years [17]
8   Brigadier
Mark Phillips
(born 1961)
September 2013 3 October 2016 3 years, 1 month [18]
9 Brigadier
George Lewis
3 October 2016 10 January 2017 99 days [19]
10   Brigadier
Patrick West
10 January 2017 1 July 2020 3 years, 173 days [20]
11   Brigadier
Godfrey Bess
1 July 2020 4 March 2021 246 days [21][22]
4 March 2021 Incumbent 1 year, 80 days

Army equipmentEdit

Infantry weaponsEdit

Army Transport vehiclesEdit

Armoured vehiclesEdit

Artillery and mortarsEdit

Aircraft inventoryEdit

The Defence force air wing was formed in 1968 and was then renamed the Guyana Defence force air command in 1973. Seven Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander were delivered over a five-year period in the 1970s and then were supplemented by Short Skyvans series 3Ms in 1979. In 1986 3 Mil Mi-8 were delivered. The GDF currently operates 24 fixed-wing aircraft and 24 helicopters.

Current inventoryEdit

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Short Skyvan United Kingdom utility 15[23]
Britten-Norman BN-2 United Kingdom utility 7[23]
Harbin Y-12 China utility 2[23]
Bell 206 United States utility 2[23]
Bell 412 United States utility 13[23]
Bell 429 United States utility 6[23]

Retired aircraftEdit

Previous notable aircraft operated by the Air Wing were the Beechcraft Super King Air, Cessna 182, Cessna 206, Embraer EMB 110, Helio Courier, Aérospatiale Alouette III, Bell 212, and the Mil Mi-8.[24]

Coast GuardEdit

The Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard is the naval component of the Guyana Defence Force.


  1. ^ DeRouen, Karl R. (2005). Defense and Security: A Compendium of National Armed Forces and Security Policies. ABC-CLIO. p. 116. ISBN 9781851097814.
  2. ^ GDF. "Where it all began".
  3. ^ "South America: Guyana". The World Factbook. CIA. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  4. ^ "3 soldiers killed in explosion at Guyana military base - CityNews Toronto". Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Guyana Defence Force". Global Security.
  6. ^ "1st Infantry Battalion". Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  7. ^ "1st Infantry Battalion". Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  8. ^ "About Band Corps". Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  9. ^ "History of Band Corps". Archived from the original on 11 November 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  10. ^ "About Medical Corps". Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Colonel Ronald Pope". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Brigadier Clarence Price". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Major General Norman Gordon Mc Lean". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Major General Joseph Singh, MSS". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Major General Michael Atherly, MSS". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  16. ^ Naipaul, Chamanlall (1 June 2004). "Former Chief of Staff calls for new national security strategy". Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  17. ^ Staff Writer (23 June 2014). "Promoted to Rear Admiral – Gary Best departing a military that is set for transformation". Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Brigadier Mark Phillips". Guyana Defence Force. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  19. ^ "George Lewis promoted to rank of Brigadier, sworn in as GDF Chief of Staff". Office of the President. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Brigadier Patrick West is new army Chief of Staff". 11 January 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  21. ^ Staff Writer (30 June 2020). "Colonel Bess appointed Chief of Staff (ag)". Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  22. ^ Staff Reporter (5 March 2021). "Bess takes charge of GDF". Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  24. ^ "All-Time Aircraft Used List Guyana Defence Force". Aeroflight.
  25. ^ a b "Four US boats for Coast Guard to arrive by Monday", Stabroek News reprinted on the 44ft Motor Lifeboats website, 2001-06-02, archived from the original on 2022-01-05, retrieved 2022-05-01
  26. ^ a b Chabrol, Denis (2021-06-14), "Guyana purchases US$11.5 million "purpose-built" Coast Guard vessel", Demerara Waves website, archived from the original on 2021-06-14, retrieved 2022-05-01
  27. ^ a b Belgrave, Shervin (2021-06-15), "Govt. paying US company US$11.5M for boat to protect Guyana from invasion, piracy", Kaieteur News website, archived from the original on 2022-05-01, retrieved 2022-05-01
  28. ^ Lawford, Clive, "U.S. Coast Guard 44350 - 44409", 44ft Motor Lifeboats website, archived from the original on 2022-01-05, retrieved 2022-05-01
  29. ^ a b Henry, Zena (2017-03-30), "GDF gets new patrol boats", Guyana Chronicle website, archived from the original on 2017-03-30, retrieved 2022-05-01
  30. ^ "GDF gets three patrol boats from U.S valued $340M", Guyana Chronicle website, 2014-03-21, archived from the original on 2019-10-08, retrieved 2021-10-15
  31. ^ "US 'Shark' boats to aid drug fight", Stabroek News website, 2014-03-22, retrieved 2022-05-01{{citation}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ Khatoon, Bibi (2017-03-29), "GDF boosted with approximately $300M boat purchases", News Room Guyana website, archived from the original on 2017-04-01, retrieved 2022-05-01

External linksEdit

  • Official website