JDF recruits frighten Portland residents
Following the successful recruitment process carried out by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) annually, the recruits are made to undergo military training, which involves recreating real-world situations around civilians.
Video footage showing a number of JDF soldiers in training on the streets of Prospect, Port Antonio, Portland, firing what appears to be blanks, as a part of their military training went viral on social media recently.
According to reports, residents were met with sights of troops armed with weapons that contained blanks, which, when fired, sounds like that of a live bullet. In the minute-long tape, uniformed soldiers are seen simulating fire attacks in the area as curious onlookers observed the spectacle.
When THE WEEKEND STAR contacted Major Basil Jarrett civil military cooperation and media affairs officer at the JDF, it was revealed that the matter was under investigation.
"When the incident happened, it forced us to re-examine the situation down there," he began. "Sometimes things on social media looks a little bit worse than it actually is."
Jarrett said the training exercise is one which adheres to standard protocol and is done annually.
"The truth of the matter is that the training that our soldiers go through, it has to be close to real life as possible," he explained.
"Part of the reality in fighting in urban areas is that you have to be able to able to discriminate between friendly and foe in a split second, so we bring our recruits to areas such as down in Portland where we can recreate that experience as close as possible to the real thing."
The high-ranking officer assured THE WEEKEND STAR that the training exercise did not affect human life.
"At no point was any civilian in any danger," he said. "We are sensitive to concerns down there and we did take a look at how we operate to ensure safety."
Viewers on Facebook took to the comment section to voice opinions.
One viewer commented: "Absolutely unsatisfactory. With all the land available to conduct training, they should not be conducting military training among the civilian population."
Meanwhile, another person said, "I think we are making this more of an issue than is necessary. I'm sure that this is not being done for the first time and, as far back as I can recall, there has never been any reported case of injury to civilian or animals."