While women have been involved in the evolution of the status quo for many notable professions, roles and responsibilities globally; the accession and influence of females in critical roles in the Jamaica Defence Force continues to be a remarkable achievement. For centuries women have been first seen as nurturers of the family and society and predominantly classified into gender specific roles. But what happens when these women embark on military careers, with positive attitudes to develop and succeed, backed with the foundation to naturally nurture and teach? This phenomenon produces women such as Sergeant (Sgt) Samanthia Griffiths.
Sgt Griffiths enlisted into the ranks of the JDF in 2003 after the influence and inspiration of her neighbour, who at the time was a Lance Corporal in the Force. During her 16 years in the JDF, Griffiths has achieved the prized classification of a Class One Electrician in 1 Engineering Regiment (1ER) JDF. During her past 3 years of service, Griffiths has been attached to the Recruit Training Wing at the Newcastle Training Depot, where she was the first female to train an all-male Platoon and the first female to train a mixed platoon since the JDF’s integration initiative.
In a candid interview with the Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs office, Sgt Griffiths shared that given the various backgrounds and conditioning of the recruits prior to the Newcastle experience, this initial phase presents various challenges. These challenges were more pronounced for her as a female in an authoritative capacity, for a platoon of young men. “Everything is discipline,” she says. “Discipline is shown in everything you do and when it is understood, everything changes and works” Griffiths explained as how she transported her platoon of 33 recruits, ably assisted by corporals S. Lewis, G. Thompson, J. Browne and Lance Corporal K. White, to a new found destination of being the first female to win a JDF Recruit Drill Competition.
“The late evenings into nights, repeating itself with early mornings, was a sacrifice well worth it!” The attributes of dedication and sacrifice were part of the formula that saw Sgt Griffiths, through her platoon of recruits, display high competencies in the 5 components of the competition. The competition was judged based on flat foot drill, rifle exercises, rifle drill, sentry drill and marching. Five military disciplines instilled in the recruits by Griffiths and rewarded on the parade square.
Being a recruit and training officer is second nature to Sgt Griffiths who is a firm believer in personal development. She currently holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree, and while being a JDF asset, continues her personal development by continuing her education at the UWI Open Campus. Sgt Griffiths is keen on someday returning to 1ER where she first “cut her teeth” in the JDF. She is ever focused on being a force asset to achieve the JDFs command intent for a better Force and country.
Sgt Samanthia Griffiths continues to be an inspiration to those she comes into daily contact with as a strong, accomplished, disciplined and determined woman and soldier. The mother of two teenage daughters, ages 11 and 19, strives to be a positive influence for her girls, to become the best of themselves in whatever career they may choose, even if it may be army, just like mummy!
By Lt Shímar Gollop
Barbados Defence Force