JDF to send full battalion to western Jamaica
Major General Rocky Meade, the new chief of defence staff, said the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) plans to deploy a full battalion of soldiers in western Jamaica.
A battalion comprises between 500 and 600 soldiers.
Meade said the JDF will have a major recruitment drive to gain the numbers.
"We will be recruiting continuously maybe 250 per year over the next year or two," he told THE WEEKEND STAR, after he was officially appointed by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen during a ceremony at King's House yesterday.
Meade said increasing the army's presence in western Jamaica would support the police.
He said the high murder rate influenced his decision to deploy a full battalion out west.
"The murder figures in the west is more than double what they normally are, apparently related to the lottery activities," he said.
Meade said that during his tenure, he wants to increase the number of men and women serving in the JDF.
There are approximately 4,000 members serving in the Jamaican military.
He said increasing the membership of the army would also provide a respite for overworked soldiers.
"We have a very modest force and the soldiers work around the clock. They have to be on and off every eight hours in order for us to keep a constant presence out there," Meade said.