Major General Joseph Singh, MSS
Major General Joseph Govinda Singh was born on 29 June 1945 at Pln Ogle, East Coast Demerara. In 1956, he won a Government County Scholarship to Queen’s College where he completed his secondary Education and after a short stint in the Civil Service, was among the first batch of Guyanese selected by the British Army in 1965 to attend officer cadet training in the UK, in preparation for the establishment of the Guyana Defence Force of independent Guyana. He is a graduate of Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot (1966); the School of Infantry, Warminster (1970); the Army School of Education, Beaconsfield (1970); the Army Free Fall Parachute School, Netheravon (1970); the Army Staff College, Camberley (1977); and, the Royal College of Defence Studies, Belgrave Square, UK (1995).
His service as a commissioned officer spanned 34 years commencing as a Second Lieutenant on June 04 1966; Lieutenant 1968; Captain 1970; Major 1972; Lieutenant Colonel 1975; Colonel 1979; Brigadier 1986; and, Major General 1999. Between 1966 and 1981, he commanded infantry troops at all levels – platoon, company, battalion and brigade, and in all terrain. He was involved in all major field operations in defence of Guyana’s territory. In addition, he held the appointments of OC Recce Platoon, Battalion Adjutant, and General Staff Officer Grade 2 and Grade 1, responsible for all Operations and Training in the Guyana Defence Force. From 1981 to 1990 he was on secondment as the Director General of the Guyana National Service and during this period he had a broad and diverse portfolio which included training of thousands of youth from all strata of the society in nation-building activities in the hinterland of Guyana. During the 1980s, he also carried out assignments as a Special Presidential Envoy to the Front-Line States in East Africa, in the years preceding the end of apartheid in southern Africa, through the mechanisms of the International Association of National Service Organisations, IANSO, of which he was Chairman and Member between 1982 and 1989, and through the South – South Commission, then chaired by former President of Tanzania - Julius Nyerere.
He was re-assigned to the Guyana Defence Force as Chief of Staff in March 1990 and tasked with the reorganization and retraining of the Guyana Defence Force in preparation for the internationally supervised Free and Fair Elections of 1992.
He successfully transitioned the Force during the change in government in 1992. He served as Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force from 1990 under five Presidents and Commanders-in-Chief until he elected to retire in 2000 having attained the age of fifty-five.
He is a graduate of the University of Guyana (Public Administration), the UK Royal College of Defence Studies (Post Graduate - International Relations and Strategic Studies), and of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Greenwich University, UK (MSc in Tourism & Protected Landscape Management).
He has published: “The Role of the Military in Environmental Enforcement”; “Strategies in countering non-military threats to emerging Democracies”; and, “Growing up in British Guiana 1945 – 1964”. He also edited and published Caesar de Freitas’ “On the Frontier of Guyana and Brazil”, Arthur Hudson’s “The Mataruki Trail”, and Matthew Young’s “Guyana, the Lost El Dorado”. He is also the author of several articles in peer-reviewedbooks and journals.
He is the recipient of the Guyana’s highest military award the Military Service Star and five other national and military awards from Guyana, national awards from Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, France and Cuba. He is a Fellow of the UK Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, and the Country Representative of the UK Scientific Exploration Society. He is married (1971) to Carolyn and they have one son, James, daughter-in-law Anabelle, and three grandchildren.