ARCHIVED - Operation JAGUAR

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Operation JAGUAR was Canada’s contribution of military aviation and search-and-rescue capability that supported the Jamaica Defence Force and conducted essential training for Canadian Forces search-and-rescue teams.

Task Force Jamaica

Task Force Jamaica was a detachment of three CH-146 Griffon utility tactical transport helicopters with aircrews and support personnel, including five search-and-rescue teams, for a total of 65 Canadian Forces members under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Lalande.

Located at Up Park Camp, the Jamaica Defence Force base in Kingston, Jamaica, Task Force Jamaica was responsible for flying life-saving missions such as search-and-rescue and medical evacuation in support of Jamaica Defence Force operations.

The search-and-rescue teams deployed with Task Force Jamaica also conducted training activities required to ensure the long-term availability of search-and-rescue aircrew for operations in Canada.

The aircraft and personnel of Task Force Jamaica deployed in August 2011 and returned to Canada in late November 2011 upon successful completion of their mission.

Mission context

On 2 June 2011, the Canadian ambassador to Jamaica received a formal request from the Government of Jamaica for a detachment of land-based helicopters to bridge a temporary gap in Jamaica Defence Force aviation capabilities, specifically the availability of its fleet of Bell 412 helicopters.

The deployment of Task Force Jamaica represented Canada’s continued commitment to assist regional partners.

Background

Canada and Jamaica have a long history of friendly military co-operation dating back to the 1960s, marked by routine sharing of training and professional development opportunities. For example, the Jamaican Military Aviation School, which trains helicopter and fixed-wing pilots from across the Caribbean, was constructed and developed with Canadian assistance, and the Canadian Forces Military Training and Cooperation Program supports the Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course in Kingston, Jamaica. Defence cooperation also includes pre-deployment training for Canadian Forces engineers as they assist the Jamaica Defence Force in improving Jamaica’s security infrastructure.

Canada continues to provide Jamaica with military support in times of trouble, especially when the Caribbean island nation has been struck by hurricanes. In 2007, for example, the very first operational flight of the CC-177 Globemaster strategic airlifter was used to transport 32 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplies to Jamaica after Hurricane Dean hit the east and northeast sides of the island, causing floods and landslides that killed three people and did US$5 billion worth of damage.

Air assets

The CH-146 Griffon helicopters deployed on Operation JAGUAR came from 5 Wing Goose Bay in Labrador and 8 Wing Trenton in Ontario. The aircrews and maintenance personnel came from 444 Combat Support Squadron at 5 Wing Goose Bay, 439 Combat Support Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville in Quebec, and 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton.

The CH-146 Griffon helicopter is a sturdy, flexible aircraft ideally suited to operations responding to emergencies. In Operation HESTIA, the relief operation mounted in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a detachment of six Griffons turned out to be crucial to mobility because the earthquake had destroyed the roads.

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