History The Jamaica Defence Force

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was formed on 31 July 1962 with the West India Regiment – disbanded just the day before – providing the nucleus. On formation, the Force comprised two regular units ‘Headquarters and Support Units’ (colloquially known as "Staff and Services"), and the First Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (1JR), as well as the Jamaica National Reserve, at that time comprising one infantry battalion.

The Third Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (3JR(NR)), which was formed in 1961 as the then sole component of the Jamaica National Reserve, became a part of the Jamaica Defence Force on 31 July 1962. Headquarters and Support Units comprised the Force Headquarters, the Garrison Administrative Unit, the Jamaica Military Stores Depot, the Jamaica Military Workshop, the Military Estates Office and the Jamaica Military Pay and Records Office. In 1963 the Jamaica Air Wing, the Jamaica Sea Squadron and the Force Engineer Unit (incorporating the Military Estates Office) were formed as sub-units of Headquarters and Support Units.

The Jamaica Military Band (the band of the original West India Regiment of 1795 which, following the Regiment’s disbanding, had been renamed ‘Jamaica Military Band’ in 1927 with semi-military status) had become a purely civilian unit in 1959 as a corporate body under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It now became a part of the Jamaica Defence Force with the advent of Independence in 1962.

Raison D’etre
To defend Jamaica against external and internal aggression.
To provide military capability to deter and/or defeat threats against the Jamaican State and/or its interests.
  • To defend Jamaica against military or paramilitary threats.
  • To provide military aid to the Civil Authorities, namely relating to:


    • Restoration/maintenance of law and order;
    • Counter-narcotics operations;
    • Search and Rescue (SAR);
    • Casualty Evacuation;
    • Humanitarian and disaster relief operations;
    • Defence diplomacy;
    • Nation building projects;
    • Contingency planning; and
    • State ceremonial duties.
  • Maintaining the integrity of Jamaica’s waters and airspace by demonstrating sovereignty over the territorial space and protecting the rights and interests in the maritime and aeronautical areas of jurisdiction (including marine environmental and fisheries protection).
  • Counter Terrorism Operations by monitoring and analyzing potential terrorist activities, and preventing or responding to terrorist incidents, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) detection, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD).
Current Structure

The Jamaica Defence Force currently comprises a Regular Force and a Reserve Force. The Regular Force has seven major units with just over 2,500 officers and soldiers. They constitute the Force's combat arms (two Regular Infantry Battalions); combat support arms (an Air Wing, a Coast Guard and an Engineer Regiment); and the combat service support arm – a Logistics Battalion.