Is the JNSC worthwhile, sustainable, Lieutenant General?Wednesday, March 31, 2021
In recent weeks the news has focused heavily on the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), with some attributing reports of the misconduct of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to the JNSC.
Firstly, I think it must be understood that Jamaica has the sixth-highest homicide rate in the world; we have over 250 criminal gangs, a booming illicit drug trade, high unemployment, and disillusioned and abused youth who believe social status is defined solely by wealth with no regard for the source of the wealth. And, to add fuel to the fire, our politics is tribal and divisive.
Against this background, one might suppose that the Jamaican Government introduced the JNSC to “…develop a range of life skills and build sound character, in order to make persons more versatile and better equipped for success in their chosen path”. No well-thinking Jamaican could then deny that this is a noble cause and the right body in Jamaica to implement or run such an organisation is the JDF.
Of course, I do not accept that a military body such as the JDF should not be tasked with carrying out non-traditional military roles. However, it is important to understand that the military cannot undertake non-military tasks effectively if, in the process and over time, such tasks lead to the abandon or diminishing of its traditional role of an army or military. After all, it is the traditional role that ensures that armies insist and maintain the highest possible standards and values.
It would be very unfortunate if the Government or JDF accepted the notion that the JNSC, as a third arm of the JDF (the other two being the Regular Force and the National Reserve) should be eliminated in the interest of preserving the discipline and high standards of its military. In ensuring that this does not happen with time, there must be a better understanding of the JNSC concept and, more importantly, its origin. Was the JNSC a JDF-born concept, or was it a Government concept thrust on the JDF for that institution to oversee its implementation and to achieve successful outcomes? And, if this is so, did the JDF not appreciate the possible negative impacts on its discipline/standards?
I respectfully suggest that the JDF's chief of defence staff provide the answers to those questions and clarify whether the JNSC is worthwhile, sustainable, and in the best interest of the JDF, and indeed Jamaica.
Colonel (Rtd) Allan Douglas
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