Quite apart from the clear legal/constitutional issues, it seems prudent to me that Jamaica, particularly Prime Minister Andrew Holness's Cabinet, should reinforce a higher measure of "distance and insulation" between democratic leadership and the leadership of the uniformed services.
Lieutenant General Rocky Meade's PhD is in a rather demanding, intellectual humanities domain. He will, no doubt, have the capacity, if not the inclination, to make short shrift of not-so-bright people with whom he may work. Despite his force of character and integrity, he could, if the opportunity presents itself, opt for martial efficiency.
This job of new cabinet secretary means speedy adjustments. It calls for many things, such as suffering the occasional ministerial folly somewhat gladly. That would tax his mettle mercilessly.
Men and women recently in military leadership still retain dictatorial ways. That is how Meade has been trained to think, react, and command. That has been his culture from a distinguished army cadet's life at Wolmer's Boys' School to his recent command as chief of defence staff for all Jamaica: 40+ years of acculturation to obeying orders and giving them.
By contrast, a minister, let alone a prime minister of Jamaica is, at heart, a civilian steeped in the hurly-burly, seemingly inefficient, philosophy of democratic rule. His or her instincts are political, mostly pluralistic, and quite populist at times. He or she instinctively knows the value of compromise over force.
Compromise wins re-election on civvy street. Elections are foreign to an army man's ideal of meritocracy and brass.
General Meade needs time to become Dr Meade, or even become sufficiently weaned of the command mindset in order to persuade others at work every single day as the clever "Mr" Meade at, say, The University of the West Indies; University of Technology, Jamaica; a consulting firm; or managing a private company.
Allow three years of patient cellaring for Rocky Meade, who has wisely selected a way less travelled by several recent people of uniform â€” Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The intellectual giant in him could one day colour him as a brilliant prime minister. Wanna bet?
Dr Dennis Minott