Operation Change Jamaica – Army Chief Plans To Beef Up Troops, Enlist Every Youth In Service Corps

The Gleaner Editors’ Forum
Photo by Sergeant Jason Lampart

Gleaner Published: Sunday 17 March 2019

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has embarked on an ambitious 20-year strategy that has as its ultimate goal a significant drawdown of troops who engage in joint security operations with the police and an expansion of the Service Corps programme to recruit every youth citizen.

Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, chief of defence staff, said the military is employing a three-tiered strategy to slash murders from 40 per 100,000 to more tolerable levels – whether that target will hover around the Latin American and Caribbean average of 16 per 100,000 or the global benchmark of 6/100,000.

“I have set out a programme of activities over the next 20 years with a detailed implementation plan over the next five years in how we can make a difference in Jamaica. In order to achieve that, we have broken it down into short-, medium-, and long-term commitments,” said Meade at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s central Kingston offices last Friday.

“I have no desire during my tenure for us to be permanently on the streets as the military interacting with our citizens in a law-enforcement role,” he explained. “My aim is to help the police get the crime situation down to a relatively normal level, where the police are capable of doing day-to-day crime fighting. That is a short- to medium-term goal.”

Meade, who took charge of the army in 2016, said that while the military would not retreat from its support role with the police as they grapple with criminal gangs, the zero sum game must be to de-escalate its involvement in daily law enforcement.

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