On Monday, December 9, the Ministry of National Security inaugurated its first Joint Operations Center (JOC) at Price Barracks. The opening of the JOC represents over two years of teamwork and collaboration between the Belize Defence Force, U.S. Southern Command, and the Governments of the U.S., Belize, and Canada.
The JOC’s inauguration is an important step in U.S. and Belize commitment to realizing a safe and secure Belize. The U.S. Southern Command Counter-Drug Program donated the building, valued at three million Belize dollars, in support of a regional security network of land and maritime forces with improved facilities, training and equipment. The Government of Canada provided the internal furnishings and computer equipment.
The primary purpose of the JOC is the exercise of operational command and control. It enables law enforcement to plan and execute maritime interception, provide operational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, determine and prioritize operational priority intelligence requirements, collect and share operational information, process and exploit collected operational information and analyze, interpret, and integrate operational information and all other tasks into one cohesive plan.
The building is designed and equipped for 24-hours continuous operation and will have at least one liaison officer assigned from each of the represented agencies including the Belize Defence Force, Belize Police Department, Coast Guard, Customs and Excise Department, and the Immigration and Nationality Services Department.
U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Margaret Hawthorne participated in the inauguration of the JOC at Price Barracks and said, “The U.S. and regional leaders believe this investment will yield major long-term security progress in our region, and will enable the Government of Belize to address the transnational threats of terrorism and illicit trafficking of humans, weapons, drugs, and merchandise. We are committed to the stability and security of Belize, the prosperity of the region and the entire Western Hemisphere.”
Also in attendance at the opening was Canadian High Commissioner to Belize His Excellency Stuart Savage, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of National Security George Lovell, Commander of the Belize Defence Force Brigadier General David Jones, and Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Borland.