ONE hundred and twenty-five civilians officially earned the right to call themselves soldiers this past weekend following an elaborate passing out parade at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Training Camp in Moneague, St Ann.
JDF Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, watched with pride on Saturday as the army's newest members were inspected by Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington.
Ellington had been specially invited to stand as Reviewing Officer for the new members of the Jamaican armed forces, who make up Intake No 102 of the JDF recruiting programme.
The police commissioner charged the men to hold dear the principles and skills they have learnt over the 16-week training programme.
He noted that Jamaica's national security needs are now so urgent, that the JDF's primary role of being battle-ready, has been expanded to include a greater role in the fight against crime and violence.
Intake No 102 started the intense military training programme in March with 150 civilians. By the end of the course, only 125 recruits remained, the rest having succumbed to the physical rigours and other demands.
As part of their programme, the soldiers received training in a variety of military fields such as tactics, map reading, field craft, signals and of course, skill at arms.
For the recruits who managed to stay the course, however, the passing out parade was a final show of the strength, discipline and precision training they had received over those four months.
The impeccably dressed, brand-new members of the Jamaican military executed their drills with co-ordinated precision movement and timing on Saturday, much to the delight of the huge audience gathered on the hills overlooking the parade square.
The addition of these recruits brings the number of members of the JDF to 4,125.