Outgoing Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Rocky Meade (left), new Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral AntonetteWemyss Gorman and Major Brandon Chambers (right) walk to the saluting dais (podium) on Friday. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)
JDF's first female chief takes command; promises accountability, focus on military education

JAMAICA'S first female Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman has her troops on alert that she will be holding them accountable in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) continued support of the national security agenda to quell the country's culture of crime and violence.

The naval officer, who has almost three decades of experience in the 60-year JDF, was passed the command baton by outgoing head of the army, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, at the traditional officious command change parade at Up Park Camp in St Andrew on Friday.

“I will lead by example and encourage every service member to execute their duties, cognisant of our core values and committed to mission. We must do our jobs well…we are not here because it serves our interest, but because our service is for the interest of the entire nation. As your chief of defence staff you will learn to trust me, [and] understand that I care about you and the well-being of your family. I will fight for and with you, but please know that with the same strength and commitment, that I will also hold you accountable for your actions and/or inactions,” Rear Admiral Wemyss Gorman told the gathering of officials representing Government, the parliamentary Opposition, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, former army chiefs, and regional and international military heads.

She also assured service members that she will focus on advancing their professional military education, through the offerings of the Caribbean Military Academy with a view to have personnel make a regional and international impact with their skill set and knowledge.

“I will enable service members by focusing on professional military education and proficiency at all levels,” she said.

In a sit down with the Jamaica Observer this week, the army chief said her aim is to ensure that when a soldier becomes qualified at the various levels of their career, that they continue along this path of efficiency.

“So, they will have annual checks at their level, and I think that will cause more effectiveness, because people will have to constantly demonstrate that they are still cutting-edge, they are still able to do what they have been trained to do five, 10, or one year ago,” she outlined.

On Friday, Rear Admiral Wemyss Gorman also indicated that she will prioritise gender neutral opportunities for leadership, and use the Jamaica National Service Corp as a critical tool for national youth engagement, as part of the army's long-term goals.

Additionally, she has promised to focus on support for the Second District JDF Coast Guard, to continue to increase the security presence in the maritime space, countering drugs and weapons trafficking, illicit fishing and other illegal activities.

Meanwhile, Lt General Meade expressed gratitude for his time in service to the JDF and nation, lauding Government and Opposition for embracing the military's 20-year strategic defence review.

“It's a 20-year plan which is not focused on which party may be in power, and we hope that the plan is sufficiently generic and relevant that it can apply to any Government policy position,” he remarked.

He said the command change parade signified not just a changing of the guard at the country's premier defence organisation, but a continuity of leadership and signals to Jamaicans that they can continue to trust the JDF and those in charge.

Rear Admiral Wemyss Gorman holds a master's degree with distinction in national security and strategic studies from The University of the West Indies and has held several command posts across the JDF. She is responsible for the setting up of the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre and the Maritime Air and Cyber Command, which includes the JDF Coast Guard, the JDF Air Wing and Special Forces.

New Chief of Defence Staff Rear AdmiralAntonette Wemyss Gorman (back right)shares a light moment with outgoing Chiefof Defence Staff Lieutenant General RockyMeade while examining the parade via theceremonial Land Rover.
Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gormantakes a salute upon her arrival at the JDFChange of Command Parade in Up ParkCamp on Friday. Behind her are ActingInspector General, Commander Judy-AnnNeil and Major Brandon Chambers.
BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

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