Jamaica and Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of a Canadian Military Operation Support Hub.
The MoU was signed at the Ministry of National Security’s Oxford Road offices by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting and Canada’s National Defence Minister, Hon. Peter MacKay, on June 26.
The establishment of the Operational Support Hub (OSH) in Jamaica will provide a legal framework that enables the Canadian Government, through its military forces and other government departments, to provide logistical support to routine operations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
This support will be strengthened by the collaboration, co-operation and assistance of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
In his remarks, Minister Bunting said the government of Jamaica is honoured to be a part of the effort, which enables both governments to combine and effectively utilise scarce human and material resources to offer peacekeeping and humanitarian services.
He said the establishment of the operational hub will also enable the Canadian government, through its military forces, to provide support for special disaster relief operations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
Mr. Bunting noted that the longstanding and close relationship between the governments and militaries of both countries made it a natural choice for Jamaica to be selected as host of the OSH.
“We feel privileged to be host of this support hub, as it is our understanding that this is one of only six across the entire world,” he said.
The Minister also recognised Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, and his team for the “tremendous” work they have been doing, and cited the “two-way” relationship between Canada and Jamaica.
“The relationship is such that it’s not only Canada contributing to us in Jamaica and the JDF, but Jamaica also provides useful support, useful expertise…in other training efforts, which are conducted jointly, either here in Jamaica, in the region or in Canada,” he informed.
For his part, Minister MacKay said the MoU is a “historic” agreement, which builds on a long and highly successful history of partnership and co-operation between both countries.
He noted that Canada recognises that the security of the Caribbean is very much linked, not only to that of the broader western hemisphere, “but to our own security as well."
“We know that a concerted and timely response to those in need after earthquakes and hurricanes and weather incidents is critical. In fact, it’s fair to say that the ability to respond quickly is very often what contributes to the saving of lives and the lessening of suffering,” Mr. MacKay said.
With the MoU, Canada will secure access to existing airports, seaports and other logistics support facilities in Jamaica that will allow Canada to respond rapidly to regional crises when they occur.
The MoU outlines operational procedures that will be followed to activate the OSH in Jamaica.
Minister MacKay, who is on a two-day visit to Jamaica, has also toured the Canada-funded infrastructure at Up Park Camp, which includes the Joint Information and Operations Centre (JIOC), the foreign student accommodations for the Jamaican Military Aviation School (JMAS), which Canada has been instrumental in establishing, and the location of the future facilities that will be used for aviation deployment and training.
Mr. MacKay is scheduled to the leave the island today.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter