JIS News

Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Stewart Saunders, says that the Defence Board’s approval of the transformation process of the Strategic Defence Review is one of the major achievements of his 3-year tenure as head of the force.
He said the transformation has allowed the force to refocus its business model, as it moves towards becoming a modern, capability based military.
“By that, I mean we have conducted quite an enormous amount of training, in order to ensure that we can meet the actual obligation that have been put our way by the people and Government of Jamaica,” Major General Saunders said.
He added that, so far, all JDF missions and tasks have to look at how the JDF trains its individuals, and develop the capabilities that are needed to satisfy Jamaica’s interest.
“Since the Strategic Defence Review outcomes were published, we have gone about ensuring that we can achieve those capabilities in the interest of the nation,” he told JIS News.
General Saunders said, however, that approval of the establishment changes does not mean that the force has everything it needs, but allows the force to be strategically placed in a position where it can achieve its goals and objectives.
Other achievements highlighted by General Saunders were the completion of the Canadian aircraft hijacking incident in Montego Bay, without any loss of life; the JDF’s mission to Haiti; and the State of Emergency operations.
“These operations, in my estimation, were well executed and I think changed the landscape where Jamaica is concerned,” he asserted.
He said that, despite the difficulties with respect to resources, the JDF never offered it as an excuse not to effectively carry out its duties. He told JIS News, however, that he would have done a lot of things differently if he had sufficient resources.
“The financial constraints that I had to endure, as the head of the army, have somewhat hampered and restricted what I wanted to achieve. Obviously, if I had the resources that I needed at hand a number of things would have been done differently, but one would have to adapt to the environment in which they exists and make the best of what is there,” he explained.
He said that he is satisfied with a number of changes in the JDF, particularly the improvement in training, development and education of human capital.
“What I am extremely satisfied about, is the fact that over the years we have been able to improve on our human capital, to the extent that we have a cadre of personnel now, that are not only capable of carrying out all the missions and tasks that the organisation requires of them, but also will be able to enhance Jamaica’s development, if and when they decide to leave the service and go into civil life,” Major General Saunders stated.
He added, however, that he has no doubt that his successor, Brigadier Anthony Anderson, will strive for excellence and seek advice when needed.
“Being at the top of this, and any organisation is lonely. (But), having said that, don’t be afraid to seek advice when you need it, because that will help you to carry out your mandate properly,” General Saunders advised.
General Stewart Saunders became the Chief of Defence Staff of the JDF in October, 2006. He has spent a total of 37 years in the Force. He will demit office on October 9.

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