Canada-Jamaica Defence Relations – Backgrounder

Canada and Jamaica enjoy close, longstanding, and historic bilateral relations that include hemispheric and international cooperation, security and defence cooperation, trade and investment links, official development assistance, and tourism. There is also a large Jamaican community in Canada estimated at 300 000 people. Canada and Jamaica cooperate within the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

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  • Canada and Jamaica share a long-standing, close bilateral defence relationship that continues to grow. The Department of National Defence (DND)/Canadian Forces (CF) and Jamaica continue to explore further opportunities to expand bilateral defence cooperation with Jamaica and support broader capacity building in the Caribbean. Examples of defence cooperation between Canada and Jamaica include:
  • Jamaican Operational Support Hub – Facilitated through an arrangement signed in June 2012, this Operational Support Hub will build on past successful cooperation and further expand Canada-Jamaica bilateral defence relations.
  • Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP) – Since Jamaica became a member of the MTCP in 1965, over 1300 Jamaican military personnel have received training through this program, a number which continues to increase every year.
    • Jamaica Military Aviation School – Established in 2006 with assistance from DND/CF, this school provides training to international partners in the Caribbean.
    • Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre – Established in 2011 with the aim to build maritime capacity for Jamaica and the region.
    • Caribbean Counter-Terrorism Training Centre – The five-year training program at the centre consists of three annual training serials, provision of personal equipment and one major training infrastructure project per year. The training has now entered into year three of the program funded by the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program (CTCBP).
  • Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course (CJCSC) – Conducted annually in Jamaica since 1993, the CJCSC is a cornerstone capacity building initiative for Jamaica and the Caribbean.
  • Exercise Tropical Hammer – Jointly run with the Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM) from 2007-2009, this exercise worked to modernize Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) infrastructure and assist with CF General Engineer Support pre-deployment training for Afghanistan.
  • Operation Jaguar – Canada’s contribution of military aviation and search-and-rescue capability that supported the Jamaican Defence Force and conducted essential training for CF search-and-rescue teams.
  • Operation Hestia – On invitation from the Government of Jamaica, Canada was able to establish an air bridge to move personnel and supplies to the region to assist after the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

In addition to these initiatives, there have been a number of high-level bilateral meetings and visits between senior members of DND/CF and their Jamaican counterparts. This includes visits by the Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, and Commander of the Canadian Army to Jamaica, and the JDF’s Chief of Staff, and the Jamaican Minister of National Security to Canada to meet with Canada’s Minister of National Defence.

Jamaican Operational Support Hub (OS Hub)

In November 2011, Canada and Jamaica reached an agreement in principle on a negotiated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an Operational Support Hub in Jamaica. This initiative builds on past successful operational cooperation with the JDF during crises, such as the earthquake in Haiti.

With the signature of the MOU, Canada has secured access to existing airport, seaport, and other logistics support facilities in Jamaica. Once directed by the Government of Canada to respond to a crisis in the region, and with the consent of the Government of Jamaica, the CF will have the option to activate the OS Hub in Jamaica to enable a rapid and effective Canadian and CF response – potentially saving lives, and providing safety and security. The MOU outlines the procedures that will be followed to activate and operate the OS Hub when required.

Jamaica Military Aviation School (JMAS)

DND/CF assisted in the establishment of JMAS in December 2006. JMAS is run by JDF and provides pilot training to JDF and Caribbean nation pilots with annual technical assessments by the RCAF Central Flying School (CFS) and with ongoing support from DND’s Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation (DMTC), to develop the school’s broader potential with the inclusion of aircraft technician training.

JMAS trains military pilots from primary through to wings graduation on either helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. The training follows CF standards. This program includes a candidate selection module followed by a phased wings training program that consists of: Pilot Selection, Primary Flying Training and Advance Flying Training. JMAS is planning to introduce Multi-Engine training in the future. All of the training at JMAS follows CF standards and all flight instructors at the school hold a CF flight instructor rating.

Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre (CMMTC)

DND/CF has expanded its cooperation with the JDF in the area of maritime training, through the establishment of the CMMTC in Jamaica. Like the JMAS, the CMMTC aims to build capacity in Jamaica for the region and thereby strengthen regional security.

The CMMTC was established through Canada’s Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation (DMTC). It provides military maritime training to both regional and international Coast Guard organisations and is a regional training establishment from the onset seeking the participation of both students and instructional staff from across the Caribbean and Central America.

The first phase of the centre’s curriculum, its annual Bridge Watch Keeper training, was launched in September 2011, and will finish in August 2012. The training will be made available to other countries in the region through a mobile training team comprised of regional instructors.

Caribbean Counter-Terrorism Training Centre (CCTTC)

DND/CF funded the construction of and provided construction support to the Caribbean Counter-Terrorism Training Centre. The training at the centre is funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) CTCBP, managed by DMTC and implemented by CANSOFCOM.

In March 2012, His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, unveiled a Canadian-funded, 60-ft high rappel tower used for specialized training exercises at Up Park Camp. At the same facility, Canada, through the CTCBP, has invested in the construction of a tactical training range and a firearms training simulator. This support builds on previous contributions which have already helped the JDF respond to security incidents – for example, when a CanJet Flight was hijacked in 2009 with more than 170 Canadians onboard, it was this Canadian-trained team that successfully ended the hijacking without firing a shot.

Exercise Tropical Hammer

In 2007-2009, Exercise Tropical Hammer was jointly run by Canadian Operations Support Command (CANOSCOM) and DMTC in Jamaica, with CF engineers and CANOSCOM elements working with JDF engineers to enhance JDF infrastructures as part of their pre-deployment training for Afghanistan. In addition to a new Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course facility, the engineers, working alongside their JDF counterparts, provided new infrastructure to the JMAS, and JDF Coast Guard. As a result of the expertise acquired during these exercises, the JDF deployed two engineer officers to serve with the CF in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

Operation Jaguar

Operation Jaguar was Canada’s contribution of military aviation and search-and-rescue capability to support the JDF, while providing essential training for CF search-and-rescue teams. 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.

Located at Up Park Camp, the JDF 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 JDF operations. Task Force Jamaica consisted of 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 CF members. 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

Operation Hestia

Operation Hestia was the CF participation in humanitarian operations conducted in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in January, 2010. On the invitation of the Government of Jamaica, Canada established an air bridge from Kingston, Jamaica, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, moving personnel and supplies into the region via 28 dedicated flights through the JMAS facilities at Norman Manley airport in Kingston.

Airlift from Canada to Haiti, coordinated by CANOSCOM, was provided by the strategic airlift squadrons of 8 Wing Trenton and civilian airlifters under charter. Most cargo flights landed at Kingston, Jamaica, where their loads were transferred to CC-130 Hercules tactical airlifters for the flight into Haiti.

In addition to supporting Canada’s Operation Hestia, and as part of the international community’s response to the earthquake in Haiti, Jamaica also deployed 150 JDF troops to the country along with other government department personnel to assist in humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

Caribbean Junior Command and Staff Course (CJCSC)

DND/CF further contributes to the development of political and military stability in the Caribbean by sponsoring the CJCSC. CJCSC is a twenty-week course designed to increase the capacity of junior officers of the JDF, and other Caribbean nation Defence Forces to perform command and staff functions of a general nature that are appropriate to their rank and to provide the foundation for their subsequent professional development. Participating countries are members of or are sponsored by the MTCP.

To date, more than 300 young officers of the Defence Forces and Police Constabularies of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. have graduated from the 16 serials of this prestigious course. CJCSC conducts one serial per year; the next will begin in February 2013.

Department of National Defence, Canada