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Defence Act To Be Amended

Defence Act To Be Amended
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, speaks in the House of Representatives on March 28.
(Media Credit: R. Fraser)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- The Defence Act is to be amended to formalise the Chief of Defence Staff title given to the commanding officer of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and also establish a recruitment arm of the force to be known as the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC). Speaking in the House of Representatives on March 28, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, noted that the Chief of Defence Staff designation has been used over time, but has not been officially incorporated in the Act. “The opportunity is now provided for us to codify the replacement of the older designation, which was just merely Chief of Staff. Now we will put the more modern title, Chief of Defence Staff,” he said. The title of Chief of Staff was changed to Chief of Defence Staff by the Defence Board on December 4, 2007, in keeping with the Cabinet-approved Strategic Defence Review of 2006.

The review sought to restructure the JDF for enhanced performance in fulfilment of its mission and in keeping with international and regional protocol.

As it relates to the JNSC, the Prime Minister said it will target youth aged 18-23 and will create an avenue for young people to be fully empowered through national service.

“The JNSC is firmly grounded in the principle that every unattached youth must have the opportunity to Learn, Earn Give Back and Save (LEGS). I firmly believe that this will provide the foundation for releasing their potential and ultimately Jamaica’s true independence,” said the Prime Minister.

This new recruitment window will result in the drafting of approximately 700 young people, who will bring the JDF’s annual intake up to 1,000.

It is expected that the JNSC programme will be a “short-term, finite programme, wherein the principal focus will be on training and development, along with defined aspects of work and military service”.

JNSC soldiers will be remunerated accordingly, be separate in identity and fully provided for in law.