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Jamaica Ministry of National Security

The Ministry of National Security (MNS) was established as a single Ministry in 2001 following the separation of the Ministry of National Security and Justice to form two separate Ministries. The current MNS mandate is to: Facilitate the maintenance of law and order; Protect Jamaica against internal and external threats; Ensure the safety of Jamaicas borders and; Punish and rehabilitate offenders. The Ministry of National Security implements its strategies through its various Departments/Agencies:

  • Jamaica Constabulary Force
  • Jamaica Defence Force
  • Department of Correctional Services
  • Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre
  • Private Security Regulation Authority
  • Police Civilian Oversight Authority
  • Firearm Licensing Authority
  • Passport Immigration & Citizenship Agency

Jamaica Defence Force

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) comprises the Army, Air Wing and Coast Guard, together forming the military of Jamaica. The Jamaica Defence Force is constituted under the provisions of Section 4 of the Defence Act. Under this Act, the JDF has responsibility for the defence and protection from external forces or threat to the sovereignty of Jamaica. The JDF also supports the maintenance of order in Jamaica as well as any other duties that may occasionally be defined by the Defence Board.

Once the sole operational element of the former Ministry of Defence, the JDF, together with the police, was placed under the Ministry of National Security and Justice in 1974. The prime minister commanded the JDF through a major general.

The Defence Board is under the general authority of the Prime Minister who has Ministerial responsibility for defence matters of the land including command, discipline and administration. The Ministry of National Security functions as the ministerial home of the JDF. The JDFs mandate is to maintain the integrity of Jamaicas waters and airspace and to provide aid to the Civil Authorities, relating to:

  • Restoration/maintenance of law and order
  • Counter-narcotics operations
  • Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Casualty Evacuation
  • Humanitarian and disaster relief operations
  • Defence diplomacy
  • Nation building projects
  • Contingency planning
  • State ceremonial duties

In keeping with one of its designated roles, the JDF has, since 1962, supported the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the national civil police organisation, in the maintenance of law and order.

The JDF was part of the coalition of regional forces which restored democracy to Grenada between 1983-85. It was also a part of the US-led force which entered Haiti in 1994 to assist in the restoration of democracy. In follow-up operations there, the JDF subsequently provided a contingent for peace keeping duties, serving for the first time under the flag of the United Nations.

The JDF assisted in national water-supply development projects in Jamaica from 1983-85 with the construction of a major water pipeline from Yallahs, St Thomas, to the Mona Reservoir in St Andrew. Between March 1993 and July 1995, the Engineer Regiment repaired over 55 km of farm roads in several parishes of Jamaica.

Since its formation, the Force has assisted the essential services during industrial disputes. The JDF has also been very active in environmental protection. With the assistance of the Canadian government the JDF established a Junior Command and Staff College at the JDF Training Depot, Newcastle in 1993. The College offers staff training (to NATO standards) to a selection of officers from the Force, as well as officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Department of Correctional Services, and the Jamaica Fire Brigade, and to officers from other Caribbean military forces, Canadian Armed Forces and the US military.

The JDF has played a major role in the numerous State Visits and other national ceremonial occasions which have taken place since Independence. Two major military tattoos have been staged, in 1968 and 1983. During the Royal Visits of 1966, 1975 and 1994, Her Majesty The Queen witnessed the Trooping of the Colours by the First Battalion (1966), the Third Battalion (National Reserve) (1975) and the Second Battalion (1994).

Defence Forces in British Imperial usage were small local forces for colonial defence consisting of part-time colonials and sometimes natives, and completely separate from full-time "imperial forces" whose service liability included overseas ventures. Defence Forces often existed in the absence of Colonial Forces (a more substantial army of colonists and natives available for both defence and external service.) Defence Forces reported to the local colonial government, but Colonial Forces were sometimes under direct War Office control in London.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was formed on 31 July 1962 with the West India Regiment disbanded just the day before providing the nucleus. On formation, the Force comprised two regular units Headquarters and Support Units (colloquially known as "Staff and Services"), and the First Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (1JR), as well as the Jamaica National Reserve, at that time comprising one infantry battalion. The Third Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (3JR(NR)), which was formed in 1961 as the then sole component of the Jamaica National Reserve, became a part of the Jamaica Defence Force on 31 July 1962. Headquarters and Support Units comprised the Force Headquarters, the Garrison Administrative Unit, the Jamaica Military Stores Depot, the Jamaica Military Workshop, the Military Estates Office and the Jamaica Military Pay and Records Office.

The WIR reformed for a short time between 1958 and 1962. The formation of the Federation of the West Indies in 1958 led to the reconstitution of the West India Regiment. However, the politically unsuccessful Federation was dissolved two months before Jamaicas Independence on 06 August 1962. Consequently, elements of the recently disbanded West India Regiment were drafted into the core of the new Jamaica Regiment, and 31 July 1962 saw the creation of the Jamaica Defence Force.

In 1963 the Jamaica Air Wing, the Jamaica Sea Squadron and the Force Engineer Unit (incorporating the Military Estates Office) were formed as sub-units of Headquarters and Support Units.

The Jamaica Military Band (the band of the original West India Regiment of 1795 which, following the Regiments disbanding, had been renamed Jamaica Military Band in 1927 with semi-military status) had become a purely civilian unit in 1959 as a corporate body under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It now became a part of the Jamaica Defence Force with the advent of Independence in 1962.

Women were recruited into the JDF for the first time in 1976 when the JDF Womens Unit was formed as a sub-unit of the Support and Services Battalion. Women once again began serving in the military in Jamaica, as they had in the two decades immediately prior to independence.

In 1977 the renamed JDF Air Wing and JDF Coast Guard, previously sub-units of Support and Services Battalion, were made autonomous. In the same year the JDF Construction Squadron, which initially comprised non-combatant soldiers and raised to support a government mini-dam program, was established as a sub-unit of the Support and Services Battalion.

Seventeen years after the formation of the JDF, its strength was increased by another regular infantry battalion when the Second Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (2JR) was formed in 1979. In similar responses to both internal and official civil needs, the engineering elements of the JDF were both upgraded and consolidated in 1991 with the formation of the 1 Engineer Regiment (Jamaica Defence Force), abbreviated 1 Engr Regt (JDF), and incorporated the JDF Engineer Unit and the JDF Construction Squadron.

Currently the Force comprises eight major units, which are listed below in order of precedence:

  1. First Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (1JR) - an infantry unit.
  2. Second Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (2JR) - an infantry unit.
  3. Support and Services Battalion - an administrative and logistic unit, which comprises administrative, medical, financial, training, transport, recovery and repair, communication, IT and supply support sub-units.
  4. JDF Air Wing (JDF AW), which also includes a reserve element (JDF AW (NR).
  5. JDF Coast Guard (JDF CG), which also includes a reserve element (JDF CG (NR)).
  6. 1 Engineer Regiment (1Engr Regt (JDF), which comprises Field, Construction, Support, and Maintenance Squadrons.
  7. HQ JDF Intelligence Unit (HQ JDF Int Unit).
  8. Third Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (National Reserve) (3JR(NR)).

"The Jamaica Regiment" and the "Jamaica Defence Force" are nearly but not quite one and the same. At independence, the JDF absorbed one battalion of the West India Regiment (the other battalion becoming the army of Trinidad and Tobago) to become The Jamaica Regiment. As the name 'Defence Forces' implies, these forces are still too small to invade anybody. Virtually none of them at independence included naval and air elements. When these were formed later, they remained under the umbrella of the predominantly land DF. Jamaica doesn't have an "air force." It has an "Air Wing" of the Defence Force (JDF), which is considered a support arm. The JDF is too small to have separate services. In other words, the navy and air are branches of the army.

The Combat Support Battalion (Cbt Sp Bn) is the most recently formed Unit of the Force. The Combat Support Battalion once fully manned will perform an essential role as a force multiplier and it will ensure the operational readiness of the Force by facilitating essential competence training. In fulfilling its role, the Unit will be responsible for Force Doctrine, training standards and providing operational support.

The Combat Support Battalion (CSB) is a robust and adaptable unit in the Jamaica Defence Forces operational arsenal that combines training, creativity and firepower with a host of personnel skills necessary to conduct and enable JDF deployments at home and abroad. CSB is an operational force multiplier that provides fire support to Combat Units. The sub-units within the Battalion provide physical support to the action of units on tactical operations by making specialized kinetic and non-kinetic support functions available.

The Support and Services Battalion was formed In 1973 from a small unit called the Garrison Administrative Unit, and comprised the amalgamation of seven sub-units: JDF Workshop, JDF Engineer unit, JDF Training Depot, JDF Sea Squadron, JDF Air Wing, JDF Medical Reception Station and the Married Quarters Accommodation Stores. Subsequently the Air Wing and Coast Guard (Sea Squadron) became autonomous units. Currently, the Battalion has an average strength of about 20 officers and 700 other ranks, employed in eight companies.

Administration and logistics have been key factors in determining the outcome of battles. Within the JDF, the Support and Services Battalion is the heart beat of the Force. Although not usually committed for operations, the Battalion provides operational assistance to the infantry battalions whenever the need arises and therefore in its normal functions, flexibility, like its motto Serving to Support must be a battle cry. The Support and Services Battalion is the parent unit for such functions in the JDF as finance, transportation, medical, procurement and vehicle and weapon maintenance. In understanding the functions of the Battalion, the relationship with the Headquarters Jamaica Defence Force (HQ JDF) must be understood. HQ JDF is an autonomous unit. However there are certain functions that reside under the Sp and Svcs Bn.

1 Engineer Regiment (JDF) was formed in August 1991 and became fully operational on 01 April 1992. Prior to this period all military and civil engineering tasks were carried out by two sub-units under command of the Support and Services Battalion: the JDF Construction Squadron and the JDF Engineer Unit. An increase in national demand for military engineers led Headquarters JDF to seek and obtain the approval of the Government to form the Engineer Regiment.



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