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Jamaica - Military Personnel

The Jamaica Defence Force currently comprises a Regular Force and a Reserve Force. The Regular Force has seven major units with just over 2,500 officers and soldiers. They constitute the Force's combat arms (two Regular Infantry Battalions); combat support arms (an Air Wing, a Coast Guard and an Engineer Regiment); and the combat service support arm - a Logistics Battalion.

In 1986 the JDF had a complement of 1,780 officers and personnel. In addition, a civilian staff of about 360 included functional and administrative personnel.

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.

Following independence, Jamaica retained a British training mission for the three JDF components; all JDF officers were trained in Britain. Canada later took over Air Wing training functions. All Coast Guard officers received training at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England. The United States Navy also has provided training assistance for Coast Guard officers and other ranks.

After a four-year lapse (mid-1980 to 1984), the British Army and JDF resumed their program of reciprocal defense exercises in June 1984. In addition, a group of 140 JDF soldiers was flown to Dover, England, for a month of training. Jamaica signed a new military training agreement with Canada in 1985, replacing the one in effect since 1965. Over 250 JDF candidates were trained in Canada during the 1965-85 period.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is set to undergo a significant amendment to its employment and youth engagement strategy, with the recent Defence Board approval of its National Service Enlistment (NSE) Program. This program is geared towards diversifying the scope of the JDFs impact on the social and economic well being of the nation, in keeping with Prime Minister Andrew Holness employment and engagement initiative termed LEGS. LEGS is aimed at increasing employment and engagement of young persons in a national service programme that allows them to Learn, Earn a living, Give back to society and Save (LEGS).

According to Major Basil Jarrett, Civil Military Cooperation Officer for the JDF, the NSE is a new category of military service which will see approximatley 1,000 persons aged 18-23, being enlisted in the JDF annually and trained over a one year period in military, vocational and broader life skills. At the end of their NSE training period, the majority of the participants will be accepted to join the JDF as regular Force soldiers, while others will be eligible candidates for employment in the private and public sectors.

During the training period, NSE recruits will undergo a modified version of the JDFs traditional basic military training program. They will also undergo on-the-job training in various aspects of the JDFs operational units (Coast Guard, Air Wing, Engineering Unit, etc), as well as training in conflict resolution, communication, critical thinking and general life skills, among others. Upon completion of the programme, participants will then be given the opportunity to continue on as soldiers in the JDF or join other government agencies such as the JCF or Correctional Services.

Jarrett noted that the benefits of the NSE go far beyond the tangible skills that participants will acquire. The NSE will now serve as the JDFs normal recruitment point as this is the standard pool that regular JDF soldiers will be drawn from going forward. As a result, they will all be exposed to and imbued with the core values and positive characteristics that the military is known for, such as discipline, respect, honesty, integrity, strong work ethics, patriotism and being good productive citizens.

The eligibility for joining the NSE program will not be any different from the JDFs current minimum requirements, but Jarrett pointed out that the NSE service is different from service in the JDF Regular Force. NSE participants will not engage in internal security duties nor conduct specific classification training that would for example bring them to a certain level of competence on weapons. They will however receive a stipend at a rate to be determined by the Defence Board and the Ministry of Finance and enrolled in a required savings plan consisting of a fixed percentage of net earnings for the duration of their service. This latter requirement is aimed at developing a healthy attitude towards saving and investing among NSE participants.

All potential entrants must undergo and pass the JDF medical examination and physical fitness test. Candidates must submit at least two (02) recent testimonials; One (01) from a Justice of the Peace and the other(s) from prominent persons of the community. Such persons include:

  • Member of Parliament
  • High Court Judge
  • Resident Magistrate
  • Public Officer (SEG 1 and above)
  • Consular Officer
  • Attorney-At-Law
  • Commissioner of Oaths Notary Public
  • Parish Councillor
  • Bank Manager
  • Credit Union Manager
  • Clerk of Courts
  • Marriage Officers
  • Army Officer (Major & above)
  • Dental Surgeon
  • Medical Practitioner
  • Police Officer (Gazetted Ranks)
  • Passport Officer
  • Veterinarian
  • Principal (Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Educational Institutions)

All Coast Guard personnel undergo basic military training at the JDF Training Depot at Newcastle, St cgeng Andrew. On completion of basic training, officer cadets are sent to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England where they receive basic naval training. Ratings undergo continuation training at Moneague Training Camp, St Ann. On completion, they are sent to HMJS Cagway for a basic seamanship course which includes swimming and boat- handling. The sailors are then allowed to specialise in seamanship, communications, diving, and marine or electronic engineering. Similar specialised training is done in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Coast Guard participates with other arms of the JDF in support of their watermanship training, ditching drills and beach landings. JDF CG also exercises with visiting land and naval forces. Some of these training exercises are Exercise TRADEWINDS involving the United States and Eastern Caribbean countries, Exercise STEEL DRUM with the British Marines and Exercise SANDSTORM with British and United States troops.

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Page last modified: 25-05-2017 19:19:57 ZULU