Jamaica Defence Force

Jamaica Defence Force

Jamaica Defence Force badge

JDF flag
Headquarters Up Park Camp, Kingston
Minister of Defence Andrew Holness
Chief of Defence Staff Major-General Antony Bertram Anderson
Military age 16 years of age for selection process, 17 years of age is actual serving age (As of 2007)
Available for
military service
747,043 males, age 16–49 (2005 est.)
Fit for
military service
523,550 males, age 16–49 (2005 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
27,729 males (2005 est.)
Budget $31,170,000 (ranked 141st)
Percent of GDP 0.6%(2007)

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is the combined military of Jamaica, consisting of an Army, Air Wing and Coast Guard. The JDF is based upon the British military model, with similar organisation, training, weapons and traditions. Once chosen, officer candidates are sent to one of several British or Canadian basic officer courses depending upon the arm of service. Enlisted soldiers are given basic training at JDF Training Depot Newcastle. As on the British model, NCOs are given several levels of professional training as they rise up the ranks. Additional military schools are available for speciality training in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.


West Indian soldiers, c. 1861

The JDF is directly descended from the British West India Regiment formed during the colonial era. The West India Regiment was used extensively by the British in policing the empire from 1795 to 1926. Other units in the JDF heritage include the early colonial Jamaica Militia, the Kingston Infantry Volunteers of WWI and reorganised into the Jamaican Infantry Volunteers in WWII. The West India Regiment was reformed in 1958 as part of the West Indies Federation. The dissolution of the Federation resulted in the establishment of the JDF.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) comprises an infantry Regiment and Reserve Corps, an Air Wing, a Coast Guard fleet and a supporting Engineering Unit. The infantry regiment contains the 1st, 2nd and 3rd (National Reserve) battalions. The JDF Air Wing is divided into three flight units, a training unit, a support unit and the JDF Air Wing (National Reserve). The Coast Guard element is divided between seagoing crews and support crews. It conducts maritime safety and maritime law enforcement as well as defence-related operations. The support battalion contains a Military Police platoon as well as vehicle, armourers and supply units. The 1st Engineer Regiment provides military engineering support to the JDF. The Headquarters JDF contains the JDF commander, command staff as well as intelligence, judge advocate office, administrative and procurement sections.

Jamaican soldiers in 2010

In recent years the JDF has been called upon to assist the nation's police, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in fighting drug smuggling and a rising crime rate which includes one of the highest murder rates in the world. JDF units actively conduct armed patrols with the JCF in high-crime areas and known gang neighbourhoods. There has been vocal controversy as well as support of this JDF role. In early 2005, an opposition leader, Edward Seaga, called for the merger of the JDF and JCF. This move has not garnered support in either organisation nor among the majority of citizens.

Major units of the Jamaica Defence Force

Army Equipment

Jamaican army equipment[1][2]
Manufacturer Model Type Number/Use/Comment Image
Small arms
Colt M16 Rifle Assault Rifle
BAE SA80 Assault Rifle
Armalite M4 Carbine Assault Rifle
Browning GP35 Pistol
FN L7A1 General purpose machine gun
Springfield Armory M79 Grenade Launcher
Browning M2 machine gun Heavy machine gun
Royal Ordnance L16 Mortar 12
Royal Ordnance SBML 2-inch mortar Mortar
Land Rover Land Rover Patrol Vehicle
Toyota Land Cruiser SUV/Utility Vehicle Armored
Toyota Hiace Minibus
Toyota Coaster Minibus
Ford LN7000 Truck
Ford LN8501 Truck
Toyota Toyota Dyna Truck Luggage Van
Armored vehicles
Cadillac Gage Commando V-150 Armoured personnel carrier 3
Thales Australia Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle Armored personnel carrier 12 on order[3]
Staff cars
Volvo Volvo S90 Executive car 1 for use by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Force
Toyota Toyota Crown Executive car Used by Senior Staff Officers and Commanding Officers
Toyota Toyota Corona Sedan Used by senior officers
Toyota Hilux Pickup truck Used for administrative purposes
Toyota Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Mid-size sport utility vehicle For administrative purposes

Past Chiefs of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (1962–2007)

1962–1965 Brigadier Paul Edwin Crook, CBE, DSO
1965–1973 Brigadier David Hartman Smith, CVO, OBE, ED
1973 Brigadier Dunstan Fitzgerald Robinson, CD, OBE, ED
1973–1979 Major-General Rudolph Edward George Green, CD, OStJ
1979–1990 Major-General Robert James Neish, CD, AFC
1990–1998 Rear-Admiral Peter Lorenzo Brady, CD, CVO, MMM
1998–2002 Major-General John I Simmonds, CVO, OD
2002–2007 Rear-Admiral Hardley M Lewin, CD, ADC, JP, psc (n)
2007 Major-General Stewart Emerson St Leonard Saunders, CD, ADC, MSc, JP, psc

In December 2007 the title of Chief of Staff was replaced by Chief of Defence Staff and filled by incumbent.

Chiefs of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (2008 onwards)

2008–2010 Major-General Stewart Emerson St Leonard Saunders, CD, JP, ADC, MSc, psc
2010- Major-General Antony Bertram Anderson, OD, JP, MDA, BEng (Hons), psc


The JDF also supports two military bands;

JDF Coast Guard

Ships in Active Service

Name of Ship Length Max speed Crew/Capacity Class Builder Delivery
HMJS Cornwall 42.8 m 26 knots 12 + 4 County Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Damen Group 2006
HMJS Middlesex 42.8 m 26 knots 12 + 4 County Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Damen Group 2006
HMJS Surrey 42.8 m 26 knots 12 + 4 County Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Damen Group 2007
HMJS Fort Charles (P 7) 35.3 m 32 knots 16 Fort Swiftships 1974
HMJS Paul Bogle (P 8) 32.3 m 30 knots 17 Hero Lantana Boatyard 1985

Other smaller vessels include:[6]

Retired Ships of the JDF Coast Guard

HMJS Yoruba (P 1)
HMJS Coromante (P 2)
HMJS Mandingo (P 3)
HMJS Discovery Bay (P 4)
HMJS Holland Bay (P 5)
HMJS Manatee Bay (P 6)

JDF Air Wing

Roundel of Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Bell 206 United States Training 2[8]
Bell 407 United States Light Observation Helicopter 3[8]
Bell 412 United States Utility/SAR 2[8]
Trainer Aircraft
Diamond DA40 Canada Basic Trainer DA40FP 2[9]
Diamond DA40 Canada Basic Trainer DA40CS 2[10]
Diamond DA42 Canada Basic Trainer DA42NG 2[11]

Retired aircraft


On July 1, 2009 a Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing Bell 412EP helicopter was on its way back to Up Park Camp from a training mission when it began experiencing mechanical issues. The helicopter crashed into the ground at Up Park Camp, injuring the captain, his co-pilot and a crew member.

Ranks of the Jamaica Defence Force

Commissioned Officers

JDF Coast Guard Other Units
Rear Admiral Major General
Commodore Brigadier
Captain (N) Colonel
Commander Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant Commander Major
Lieutenant (sg) Captain
Lieutenant (jg) Lieutenant
Sub Lieutenant 2nd Lieutenant

Enlisted Ranks

JDF Coast Guard Other Units
Master Chief Petty Officer I Warrant Officer 1
Master Chief Petty Officer II Warrant Officer Class 2
Chief Petty Officer Colour Sergeant / Staff Sergeant
Petty Officer Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal
Able Seaman Lance Corporal
Ordinary Seaman Private

Additional training

Besides inhouse training, the JDF has been trained by members of the Canadian Forces to deal with special needs.[12]

See also



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