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Diálogo Interview With Jamaica Chief Of Defense Staff: Major General Antony Anderson

Diálogo Interview With Jamaica Chief Of Defense Staff: Major General Antony			Anderson

By Dialogo
March 14, 2011

The Jamaica Defence Force has improved in its capabilities over the years as a small but very professional military in the region. The military serves as a model somewhat to others in the caribbean to emulate in its roles. Continue to make jamaica and the region proud! I hope someday to be apart of this truly remarkable force. excellent Well other than the typo in the sentence ("These roles are from our national security strategy, which is an all of government document.") where the word "AN" should be ON...., it was a very good advisory on current issues and future expectations... well said by Major General Antony Anderson

The most important topic discussed during the Caribbean Nations Security
Conference, hosted by the United States Southern Command and Trinidad and Tobago in
Port of Spain, from February 23-24, was countering illicit trafficking, a
trans-national challenge which requires trans-national cooperation and partnerships.
Diálogo spoke more in depth about this and other subjects with the Chief of Defense
of Jamaica, Major General Antony Anderson, one of the presenters at the
event.


DIÁLOGO:


What are the main security concerns for Jamaica at present?


Major General Antony Anderson:


We have to continue our process of crime reduction. We also have to ensure we
secure our maritime space and we have to ensure we have an appropriate range of
capabilities to respond to a wide range of contingencies. Anything from the sort of
security concerns that arise from a natural disaster to those concerns that rise out
of a pandemic, to the concerns of crime and public safety.


DIÁLOGO:


Those are a lot of priorities…


Major General Antony Anderson:


Unfortunately you don’t choose what happens to you, you can only choose how
prepared you are to deal with it.


DIÁLOGO:


What are the armed forces doing to deal with these concerns?


Major General Antony Anderson:


The armed forces went through a defense review in 2006 that outlines clearly
what roles it would be required to take on. These roles are from our national
security strategy, which is an all of government document. We pull the capabilities
we require, and then of course, we look at the capabilities we have and the gaps we
have and determine how to fill those. When you actually do an analysis, there are a
number of capabilities that you require that may involve more structural changes,
more doctrinal changes, and then of course there are those things that are
associated with actual expenditure and budget support, like equipment and
infrastructure. So as you look at the range that gives you a capability, the most
important thing is to decide what you are going to be doing and what you need to do
it.


DIÁLOGO:


You stated at the conference: “We are past the point where we think the
military has no business in law enforcement. This is the military’s business.”
Please elaborate on that statement:


Major General Antony Anderson:


I made that comment in the context of the reality that for a small state it’s
not going to be possible to have your armed forces not get involved, when the
problem is exceeding the capacity of the police for any number of reasons.
Recognizing that, you have to get past the point of reluctance and get to the point
that this is reality and how do we best do that mission. It’s one of the missions we
have and it was in that context that I was saying that. Over the years, we’ve
developed quite a good synergy with our police force and I think it’s as good as
it’s been at the moment, because we do a lot of joint work, but behind the scenes we
do a lot supportive work as well.


DIÁLOGO:


How are you working with the police to counter illicit trafficking and the
spread of transnational criminal organizations?


Major General Antony Anderson:


We are doing it in a number of ways: through direct support with soldiers and
joint patrolling and getting involved in any type of police actions there are in
terms if the need to conduct check points, but that is only on the front end of it.
On the back end of it, we provide our planning skills and bring them to bear on
situations that they may face or we face jointly, so we conduct joint training. We
offer training and course development for and with the police, so on that side of
things, on the side where you develop the human capital to take on new challenges we
support the police in that way as well as with intelligence.


DIÁLOGO:


What can be done to avoid the emergence of new gang leaders?


Major General Antony Anderson:


I would like to believe we have turned the corner. It was not just a matter
of police confidence, it was a matter of public confidence, of the society really
wanting and recognizing that change is required. Your law enforcement and security
forces cannot really deal with that matter without the support of society and I
think there are voices in society that are now pushing for it to continue. I think
the police have a renewed energy. Their leadership is first class as far as I’m
concerned and they’re doing all the right things. It will take a little while for it
to catch on throughout the entire force, but you can see a new energy and how things
are being tackled, and if that can be maintained, then I think we can turn the
corner on it. Of course, on the other side of things, there’s a part of the social
environment that is not within our ambient, such as the accessibility to jobs and
those other entirely social issues that have to be addressed as well in order to
deal with the problem.


DIÁLOGO:


What is the benefit of working with other countries in the region and the
United States?


Major General Antony Anderson:


These threats are called transnational in nature and therefore the response
needs to be a transnational one to fully deal with the situation. A lot of the
successes in dealing with transnational and organized crime are transnational
investigations and transnational organized approaches. If you trace those successes,
you will see those partnerships that led to the success. What I think we need to do
is establish this as a normal way of operating, where you can share information and
support each other’s operations, because I don’t think there is any one of the
countries that we speak of that wishes to have an organized crime problem. It’s
really a matter of strengthening those structures between nations so that the extent
of the organized transnational crime problem is visible.


DIÁLOGO:


Do you feel the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) will contribute to
this regional cooperation?


Major General Antony Anderson:


It must contribute because of the way it is working; it’s a multilateral
security initiative. In terms of U.S. engagement, doing it multilaterally is
relatively recent. Traditionally we have a number of bi-lats with countries or
specific groups, but CBSI seeks to broaden that to a wider group. Like anything in
its early stages, it will go through teething problems, but there is significant
multilateral activity within CARICOM already. There are proper structures that exist
for security and arrangements, treaties, and legislation to support those treaties
and structures, means of intelligence sharing mechanisms for advance passenger and
cargo systems, standing committees of heads of security agencies. So there’s
structure there. I think that CBSI, having now decided that the Secretariat will
reside with the CARICOM agency, can obtain synergy from that which can add
additional value to existing structures, as opposed to running parallel structures,
so I think it will assist our process along.


DIÁLOGO:


What does Jamaica bring to the table?


Major General Antony Anderson:


What we have been contributing to the region for a very long time. We offer
training to the region in a number of ways, from junior staff training for mid level
officers, to intelligence training, aviation training, and also support in a number
of ways to the other countries in the region. We’ve done this for a while and we’ll
continue to do this for a while. And also, we perhaps have a bit more experience at
doing joint operations with police than most people. A lot of the countries have
been coming to this in the past 3-5 years; but we’ve been doing this for 35 years.
It’s important that we share our experience so that they don’t have to go the long
route, they don’t have the time for that. They have to be effective now and their
situation is evolving quickly. That is demanding more attention from the military
from what was essentially and traditionally a law enforcement matter.


DIÁLOGO:


How do you see Jamaica’s future?


Major General Antony Anderson:


I think that it is well within our capacity as a country to win the fight
against illicit trafficking. If we can just galvanize the will from all of the
pieces that are required to win the fight and get it done. The capacity is there
whether the intent can be wielded to reach that end. I think it can be, but like
anything else, circumstances are what drive you to do things. We’ll see how it
evolves. At the moment it’s trending in the right direction. We are going to
continue to push in that direction. It’s recognized what is needed to be done from
the socio-economic perspective and that area is receiving attention. It depends on
how well we coordinate all that attention and how we maintain the will both socially
as a country and politically through leadership.


DIÁLOGO:


Even if one country wins this fight by normalizing their internal situation,
wouldn’t it still make you vulnerable?


Major General Antony Anderson:


There are a couple of things for people involved in combating transnational
crimes that require you to have a robust structure and legislation to prevent things
like corruption or to set up mechanisms that can allow people to say what they know
and be protected and secure. Will all your problems go away? Certainly not, because
they evolve and things change. As a region, there are large disparities and
capacities to deal with those problems, but in Jamaica, we’ve always held our hand
out. Even when our own problems are overwhelming, we’ve always extended a hand to
assist in the Caribbean. Haiti was an example that we were there within 48 hours of
the earthquake occurring. Not only to deal with search and rescue issues, but also
to send in orthopedic surgeons. For a small country like ours, we managed to affect
fifty thousand families and move a million pounds of supplies to support them, so we
have a history of supporting the region.




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