Army launches crime fighting operation
Aims to cut supply lines to criminals
Stabroek News
June 7, 2002

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The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) yesterday announced the launching of Operation Tourniquet aimed at halting the chilling crime spree in the country and the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.

The exercise began on Wednesday evening with control points and roadblocks manned by police and army units on the East Coast Public Road. The police are responsible for arrests and searches and the GDF for enforcement.

Speaking with reporters yesterday at the Officers' Mess, Camp Ayanganna, Lt Col Andrew Pompey said that the exercise also included the army and police conducting joint patrols and cordoning off and searching identified buildings based on intelligence information. Specially trained units of the GDF will be used when the operations are being conducted in built-up areas.

Lt Col Pompey explained that the joint exercise was being conducted in accordance with protocols developed with the police. There will be no intermixing of servicemen and responsibilities during the exercise, which is being run from a joint operations centre and coordinated at the highest level of the two organisations. There is also cooperation at lower levels to allow for the sharing of intelligence between them.

Operation Tourniquet is a follow-up to exercise Plaster of Paris, during which the army repaired the Railway Embankment Road that passes through Buxton. It is also maintaining a presence to ensure that the road remains open to traffic. Buxton villagers had dug trenches across the road during recent disturbances in the area.

Another phase of 'Plaster of Paris' was the collection of GDF camouflage kits that were in unauthorised hands. That exercise was conducted over the last weekend. The response was poor.

The unacceptable level of criminal activity and the reported involvement of persons dressed in GDF camouflage kit, helmet and flak jackets at the Commerce House robbery last Saturday, sparked the launching of Operation Tourniquet, according to Pompey, who is responsible for operations and training in the army.

About the rules of engagement, he said that these would follow guidelines developed by Chief of Staff, Brigadier Michael Atherly, which cover every aspect on the opening of fire by army personnel. The personnel taking part in the exercise are being briefed on the guidelines.

Responding to a question about weaponry and the duration of the exercise, Pompey asserted that there has never been any suggestion that any group was better armed than the GDF and that at the end of the exercise there will be a reduction in criminal activity.

Asked whether or not the army was still of the view that the escapees were not hiding out in the Buxton backlands, Pompey said that with the widening of the search area beyond Enmore-Lusignan, he was not in a position to say if the escapees were hiding out on the East Coast.

Asked if the communities on the East Coast had been notified about the operation, Pompey said that he was unable to say but felt that they should not be up in arms over the arrest of persons accused of criminal activity.

Responding to questions about the authority for the GDF's involvement in civilian law enforcement functions, Pompey said that the exercise was one which the army was trained to conduct. He said he was unaware that the police had exhausted all of its assets in the attempt to address the present crime situation.