Jamaica Defence Force Introduces Youth Program during Caribbean Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum
By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo August 24, 2017I badly want tout joing with you. I would like if I got that opportunity The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is undergoing changes to get ahead of nascent threats. It is shifting focus toward the country’s youth as young men and women face an ever-changing, increasingly competitive, and fast-paced hostile environment, particularly due to the compounded availability of drugs and weapons in the streets of Kingston and other major cities. JDF military personnel and their counterparts in the region took the opportunity to discuss their initiatives at the Caribbean Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum (CSELF-17), held from July 24th–27th in Kingston. In order to thwart youths from joining crime groups, JDF has launched the Jamaica National Service Corp (JNSC), to employ and train approximately 1,000 young adults between the ages of 18 to 23 for each of the next two years. It is an integral part of a program called “Work to Learn, Earn, Give, and Save – LEGS,” created by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. “This is translated to mean working for learning your compulsory education and apprenticeship; for earning to give, and then working to save, where you work to put something aside,” Holness said in an interview with local newspaper, The Gleaner, to explain the acronym. Training the youth for a military career “The JNSC personnel will be trained as soldiers with a variety of military skills, but will not be made proficient in the firing of weapons. They will also be exposed to life skills enhancements, including desirable qualities such as discipline, respect, honesty, integrity, a strong work ethic, and patriotism,” JDF Warrant Officer Class I Anthony Lysight told Diálogo. “By the end of their JNSC experience, participants will become excellent candidates for regular military service, or for other careers in the public or private sectors.” WO Lysight, who works directly with the chief of Defense Staff, was the highest-ranking JDF senior enlisted leader during CSELF-17. The first-of-a-kind event “Enlisted Roles and Responsibilities on Regional Security Concerns” was co-hosted by JDF, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and U.S. Army South. “The intent of the forum was to facilitate discussions on issues pertaining to the roles and responsibilities of enlisted ranks, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions in the region and abroad; the development of enlisted personnel, and the optimization of their support to higher command and to the officer corps at large, while taking the best care of their soldiers,” explained WO Lysight. Senior enlisted military personnel from Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Jamaica, and the United States were in attendance. An overdue engagement “I am not so sure why we took so long to have this kind of engagement. We have been engaged at the level of force commanders for a long time, regionally and internationally,” said Major General Rocky Meade, the JDF chief of Defence Staff, during the opening of the seminar, of which he was the guest of honor. “But we have overlooked the fact that, with the common challenges we face, we also need interaction at this level across the region in order to come up with adequate solutions that can be recommended to commanders to deal with such challenges.” After his speech, participating senior enlisted military personnel were left to interact and exchange information and experiences during the four-day, fast-paced event that began with a cultural presentation by each participant country. “We’ve had a long relationship with the JDF. Bermuda has been coming to Jamaica since 1967 and using some of their training facilities. We are a small jurisdiction, and it helps us with cultural awareness. To be involved with this conference, where you get to meet senior enlisted men and senior leaders from other Caribbean nations, we find that there’s a commonality amongst some of the challenges that we have, and it’s a great place to exchange ideas and experiences, and work towards a common goal,” said Warrant Officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment Rupert Lambert. “And even find out places and resources that we didn’t know were available to us: training resources and other things like that, so it’s a great conference. Hopefully we’ll continue with these seminars for years to come.” Jamaican military centers of excellence The Jamaicans made sure everyone else shared WO Lambert’s view of their training resources. On the afternoon of the first day of the seminar, the JDF invited all participants – including Diálogo – to visit several of their military facilities, among them, the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre (CMMTC). “The CMMTC delivers professional maritime training to regional maritime forces in order to effectively control the Caribbean maritime space. Some of the courses we offer are Bridge Watchkeeping, the Naval Boarding Party, and the Patrol Craft Command,” explained JDF Coast Guard Lieutenant (sg) Delando Coriah, who briefed the group visiting CMMTC facilities. The most impressive installation for many was the Jamaican Joint Information Operations Centre (JIOC). The construction of this state-of-the-art facility was made possible in part by Canada, which funded the project via the Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation agreement signed by both countries. The JIOC officially opened on March 18, 2014 with a ceremony at Up Park Camp, the main JDF base located in Kingston. Other site visits included the Caribbean Military Aviation School and the Technical Training Institute. The second day of the event was dedicated to discussions on topics related to common challenges faced by the military forces in the region, including women’s integration in the military. JDF Warrant Officer Class I Patton Brown gave a presentation on the role of women in the armed forces since World War II. Speaking about the challenges women face in the military, she said that “in other countries the discussion is more on women performing combat roles, but in the JDF, because we aren’t deployed as much as our international partners, our main concern in terms of gender inequality would be the amount of females that are allowed to join at any one time. But to be clear, Jamaica already has women in combat roles in the Infantry.” Thinking outside the box U.S. Marine Corps Forces South Sergeant Major Thomas Eggerling spoke about the challenges senior enlisted leaders face in communicating with their respective commands. “We heard the same thing during these interactions here in Kingston: We all lack resources, we all lack people, we all lack time,” said Sgt. Maj. Eggerling. “The marines have never had enough money. We’re always looking for ways to train cheaply and effectively, so I think that applies to a lot of the countries present at this seminar. We can’t help them make the people, but how you treat the people, how you recruit the people, those are very real things that we can help with,” he added. During the event’s closing, attendees agreed that this kind of event is important for senior enlisted leaders in the Caribbean and that it should continue. “The inaugural CSELF-17 event was a huge success in that it not only provided senior enlisted leaders throughout the Caribbean an opportunity to collectively understand one another’s unique challenges in regard to their individual country’s force composition and threats, but also how all of these nations’ various forces can be brought together to more efficiently respond to look at NCO development and humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions in the region and abroad,” said U.S. Army Master Sergeant Major Philip W. Sloan, the special advisor to the commander at SOUTHCOM. “Of the senior enlisted leaders that were present, each had at least 20 years of experience and a multitude of real-world deployments in response to these types of missions, which contributed greatly to the overall understanding of the group itself,” he concluded.