Strengthening the core of the Jamaica Defence Force

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Article / March 21, 2014

By: Lucy Ellis

While Jamaica’s beautiful beaches and warm sunshine are appealing prospects to Canadians this winter, the Canadian Armed Forces’ interest in the island goes a little bit deeper.

Canada and Jamaica have a rich history of cooperation dating back through the 20th Century. Canada’s interest in Jamaica is multi-fold. The bilateral relationship has produced benefits in the areas of security and defence, trade and investment, development assistance, and tourism.

Jamaica has been a key partner in building Canada’s relations with other Caribbean nations by providing a central location for a variety of training programs. Jamaica joined the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP) in 1965. The MTCP currently includes programs such as the Caribbean Military Aviation School and the Caribbean Counter-Terrorism Training Centre among others.

Jamaica has also been a launch pad for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and search and rescue (SAR) operations. During Operation JAGUAR in 2011, the CAF worked with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to complement both nations’ SAR capabilities during what was anticipated to be a heavy hurricane season. Op JAGUAR resulted in over two dozen successful SAR and medical evacuation missions. 

More recently, Canada’s support for the JDF has expanded into the realm of technology. A core feature of a strong military is a centralized command that can efficiently disburse information to its members.

In 2009 the Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation (DMTC, the new name of the MTCP) initiated development for the Jamaican Joint Information Operations Center (JIOC). Construction was funded by the DMTC but the JDF Engineer Regiment took the lead in building the structure itself. This provided an ideal training opportunity as the building is one of a kind in Jamaica and presented a new challenge to meet.

Final construction is complete and the hardware and software have been installed; the JIOC is ready to streamline the command and information sharing process for the JDF.

The JIOC will be the operations centre for the Jamaica Defence Force,” says Blair Waddington, Program Manager at DMTC.  “It will have the ability to analyze information not just on military matters but also, for example, on weather-related issues, such as hurricanes. There will be an ability to work in the JIOC with other Jamaican entities, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force or customs agents, as well as with regional partners such as the CAF.

The JIOC will be operated by JDF members, but Canada will continue to provide support to ensure future success. It will link together the 4,000 member strong JDF which has personnel based at several locations around the perimeter of the island, as well as Moneague, home of the Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course, in the centre. 

The JIOC officially opened on 18 March 2014 with a ceremony at Up Park Camp, the main JDF base located in Kingston, Jamaica. Attending the opening ceremony was Lieutenant-General Beare, who was also present during Op JAGUAR.

The Canadian Armed Forces and the Jamaican Defence Force are decades-long defence and security partners. We have enabled each other in operations and response to crises in the Caribbean region, profited from opportunities to train together in tropical environments, and invested together in regional military security force capacity development,” said LGen Beare. “The establishment of the Joint Information and Operations Centre is a product of this relationship. It is a key component to serving the needs of Jamaican security forces, supporting regional security operations, enabling regional training and providing a platform to integrate Canada's military contribution to these.

I am pleased, proud, and grateful that the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Defence Team partners, in support of Major General Anderson [Jamaican Chief of Defence Staff] and team JDF, have played a meaningful role in bringing this facility and capability online,” concluded LGen Beare.

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