The HonourableÂ Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced that in response to a request from the Government of Jamaica, Canada is deploying three CH-146 Griffon tactical helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel to support the Jamaica Defence Force during the 2011 hurricane season.
â€œOur government is committed to ensuring that our Canadian Forces are ready to assist our allies on the world stage, if and when the call comes,â€ saidÂ Minister MacKay. â€œI could not be more pleased that our men and women in uniform will be working alongside members of the Jamaica Defence Force during that countryâ€™s coming hurricane season. Once again, Canadians have a reason to be proud of the incredible work our men and women in uniform are achieving on behalf of our great nation.â€
The request from Jamaica addresses a specific capability gap in the Jamaica Defence Force, which currently does not have helicopters suitable for taskings such as search and rescue and medical evacuation flights. While in support of the Jamaican Defence Force, Canadian Air Force personnel will also take this opportunity to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) training activities in order to meet essential Canadian Forces SAR training requirements in support of domestic SAR capabilities.
â€œThis deployment, the first under a new Canadian Forces initiative dubbedÂ Operation JAGUAR, will once again demonstrate that the men and women of the CF have world-class military skills and discipline, and a global reputation that is second to none,â€ said Lieutenant-General Marc Lessard, Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command. â€œOur Forces are proud to serve Canadians by projecting the best of what this country has to offer around the world.â€
Task Force Jamaica â€” the team deployed onÂ Operation JAGUAR â€” is an aviation detachment comprised of 65 CF personnel and three CH-146 Griffon helicopters. Their mission is to undertake specific critical life-saving tasks both inland and over water in support of the Jamaica Defence Force. An aspect of Canadaâ€™s continuing commitment to international peace and security,Â Operation JAGUAR shows how relevant, responsive and effective Canadaâ€™s helicopter fleet is in todayâ€™s complex environment.
The Canadian Forces has worked closely with Jamaica for many years, on several projects through Canada’s Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP). For example, Canada assisted in the construction and development of the Jamaican Military Aviation School, which opened in 2006. The school provides aircraft training to pilots throughout the Caribbean.
Other MTCP initiatives with Jamaica include the Counter-Terrorism OperationsÂ Training and the Naval Boarding Party Training for Caribbean nations, both funded by the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program of theÂ Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canadian Forces were also instrumental in the construction of the Caribbean Junior Command and Staff College at the Moneague Training Camp, St Ann.
Jamaica has also hosted the Canadian Forces for pre-deployment training for engineers, such as 2008â€™s Exercise Tropical Hammer, and forÂ Operation HESTIA, where Jamaica acted as a staging area for the Government of Canadaâ€™s emergency response to Haiti following the earthquake last year.
The longstanding, successful collaboration between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaica Defence Force is a testament to how military-to-military cooperation provides opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas, learn from best practices, and leverage shared interests.
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