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    Ask most Jamaicans what comes to mind when they hear the name “National Reserves”, and they will likely tell you, “soldiers who respond at beck and call.”
    But, there is much more to them than being the reserve arm of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) or, more specifically, the 3rd Battalion Jamaica Regiment. Although a reserve unit, the once all-male ranger battalion carries out day-to-day operations in communities across Jamaica. Members are volunteers recruited from other professions.
    According to the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Euken Mills, they are currently assisting the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in a number of parishes across the island.
    “Currently, we assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force in its operational duties in western Jamaica. We also have a unit in the Kingston and St. Catherine area,” he outlines.
    Highlighting the work of the unit, Lt. Colonel Mills explained that the battalion undertakes at least one community outreach project, annually.
    “We carry out community-based work annually, and this is usually done during our camp. The aim of the project is to provide meaningful service to some communities, thereby furthering national development,” he points out.
    He added that the unit has now included a medical component to allow members of these communities to access quality medical care.
    In addition, he reveals that, since 2003, the National Reserves have been working on a number of projects in schools across the island, making the lives of students and teachers more comfortable.
    “Our eastern projects include the Black River High School and surrounding schools which we worked on in 2003. We have repaired classrooms, cleared rubble, repainted the school and a mural, that had not been painted since 1979, and erected a new classroom at the Central Branch Infant and All-Age School,” he adds
    The B-Joseph Early Childhood Centre also benefitted in 2006, as they repaired the perimeter walls, repainted the buildings, replaced toilet facilities, cleared rubble, installed a school sign and picket fencing and also conducted a medical clinic.
    Around the grounds of Up Park Camp, the word innovation seems to be a part of the vocabulary of every military man, and this unit is no different.
    Lt. Colonel Mills said that his men have been instrumental in developing and sustaining their own unit, which needed more than a facelift.
    “In 2005, members of the unit contributed labour and technical expertise in renovating the male bathroom, and several barrack rooms have since been repaired. There is currently an active beautification project, where members from the various companies undertake to improve the facilities they live and work in,” he explained.
    “The battalion has been able to negotiate with Victoria Mutual Building Society for the construction of new barracks. Members of the unit contribute labour and other services, such as project drawings and engineering plans.
    He further stated that a new project plan is already in place to establish a library and learning centre within the barracks, as well as a waiting hall, a new canteen and the upgrading of barracks rooms.
    Despite not doing what regular army members do everyday, the members are as competent and as fit as their colleagues. Lt. Colonel Mills says that, in order to be ready when called on, his men engage in the same training as regular members of the JDF.
    “In order to ensure that we are on par or ready when we are called on to perform our duties, there are some minimum training requirements that all members of the unit must complete. These include an annual range camp lasting for 14 days.
    “Training is done locally and is conducted both on an internal and external basis. Internal, meaning we conduct it within the unit, or externally we train with other members or attend training provided by the general force,” the Commanding Officer asserted.
    He said that the training syllabus and tests are similar to the regular ones, as it is one testing standard across the board.
    The unit has been through several name changes. It was first called Jamaica’s Voluntary Military Services, in 1662 when the Jamaica Militia was formed. In 1914, it became the Kingston Infantry Volunteers from St. Andrew Corps., and in 1939 it became the Jamaica Infantry Volunteers.
    It is considered a well rounded unit comprised of volunteer citizens, personally drawn from the private and public sectors, and including auto mechanics, bankers, dentists, teachers, aircraft engineers and shopkeepers.

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