Sunday, 3 December 2017

Jamaica partners with South Africa on Science and Research. How about Security and Defence?

A radar system. Source: defenceWeb

In the news:
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica and the Republic of South Africa are to sign a Commercial Agreement which will see businesses in both countries collaborating on nutraceuticals, research and development. 
This was stated by Charge D’Affaires at the South African High Commission Phillip Riley, while addressing a National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST) Symposium held on November 30 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. 
The agreement will be signed in few days during a visit to South Africa by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley and Director General at NCST, Professor Errol Morrison.
Source: Jamaica Observer

That's all good, but why stop there? How about also partnering on national security and defence? Dr Wheatley you need to nudge the Security Minister Robert Montague, and remind him of this comment:
The Minister informed that the Administration is also looking at establishing an islandwide radar network “to cover every square inch of our coastline and much of the marine space”.
Source: JIS

We should engage the South Africans in regards to purchasing some surplus radar equipment. It's in the news that they plan on replacing some systems with newer ones. The security minister is making the most of used cars for the police, so how about some used radar equipment for the army as well? If the South Africans are willing, let's cut a deal.

From the article "SA needs more radars for border safeguarding"
In Crous’s view, the SAAF would require 50 primary, static and medium radars to monitor and safeguard the borders. “The amount of sensors required is substantially more than what the air force currently has. It will require a very different set of resources.” 
Some good news is in the form of Project Chutney, which aims to replace some mobile and fixed air defence radars operated by the South Africa Air Force. Additional funding has been allocated for this in the 2018/19 financial year.
Source: defenceWeb 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Jamaica Acquires Maritime Surveillance Aircraft

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government is to acquire a surveillance aircraft as part of a raft of new measures to strengthen the country’s border-protection system. 
This was disclosed by Minister of National Security, Robert Montague, during a press briefing at his Oxford Road offices in St Andrew on Wednesday. 
He said the Government “has taken a very conscious decision that we are going to invest heavily in national security to ensure citizens’ safety and security”.  
He informed that the aircraft, which has already been purchased and will be in the island by July, will not become operational until early next year, “because we have to build specialised surveillance equipment and fit it on to that aircraft”. 
In the meantime, the minister informed that Jamaica is to acquire an additional naval ship, outfitted with a helicopter, from the United Kingdom (UK) early next month. 
 “This will not only assist us in dominating the marine environment but will also assist with search and rescue (efforts),” he said. 
A vessel was recently procured through the Jamaica Customs Agency. 
Additionally, the minister noted that following bilateral meetings with the United States Government, both countries have agreed to share intelligence “because a lot of the traffic in our waters is being monitored by the United States navy and coast guard”. 
He noted that through these and other measures, in collaboration with key trading partners, including Canada,  the Government “will be providing sufficient dominance of our marine space to do search and rescue, stop the flow of drugs, stop the flow of guns and, most importantly, to protect our fishing resources”. 
The minister informed that the Administration is also looking at establishing an islandwide radar network “to cover every square inch of our coastline and much of the marine space”. 
 “(With this network) whether it is a man on a raft, or two men in a little canoe, or (several) people in a big ship, we will have sight of them once they come within a certain distance of the Jamaican coastline,” he said.
This announcement is a positive development. It is commendable when the security minister recognizes the need for electronic surveillance and other equipment to strengthen border security. Nevertheless, I have a few gripes:
He informed that the aircraft, which has already been purchased and will be in the island by July, will not become operational until early next year, “because we have to build specialised surveillance equipment and fit it on to that aircraft”.
Really? Why buy an aircraft that needs to then be fitted with equipment when there are out-of-box solutions available? There are the AHRLAC, the LH-10 Guardian, the Britten-Norman Defender and the RC-208 Caravan etc. It will be interesting to see what they've bought, and then spend more money to outfit. One glaring omission from the shopping list: unmanned aerial vehicles.

Clockwise from bottom left: RC-208, AHRLAC, LH-10 and the Britten-Norman Defender
In the meantime, the minister informed that Jamaica is to acquire an additional naval ship, outfitted with a helicopter, from the United Kingdom (UK) early next month.
Right on the heels of trading in three Stan Patrol vessels for two newer versions, the minister says a third and much bigger ship is to join the mission. One with a helipad. Are we talking about a corvette-class warship here? Like the one shown below? I don't think the JDF is in need of a seaborne helicopter platform, but they do need amphibious capability (Combat Boat 90) and at least one air base, so they can stop operating out of civil airports.

Corvette warship
Corvette-class warship
The minister informed that the Administration is also looking at establishing an islandwide radar network “to cover every square inch of our coastline and much of the marine space”.
A game changer if this is accomplished. Quite a long shot with our budgetary constraints but it's not impossible. There is also another network that is needed: a network of spies. The security minister should also look at expanding human intelligence.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Border Protection: Radiation Alert!

Jamaica Customs authorities have revealed that in the last 13 months, tests conducted at the nation's ports have confirmed the presence of higher-than-normal levels of radiation in two shipments from Japan.

The most recent case, according to Assistant Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts, came last month when a trans-shipment container carrying used motor-vehicle parts destined for Guyana was scanned at the Kingston Container Terminal and its radiation levels was determined to be "elevated".

The first case involved a minibus imported by a local used-car dealer in November 2012.

"The JCA [Jamaica Customs Agency] has been on high alert since the earthquake affected Japan," Ricketts said in an emailed response to queries by The Gleaner. More

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Geothermal and Energy Security

Regarding Jamaica's energy security, is geothermal the answer?

From CVM-TV (Skip to 16:34 into the video newscast):
An abnormal occurrence in a community just outside Discovery Bay, St Ann has prompted calls for the country’s geological authorities to investigate what has been described as strange substances resembling smoke at high temperature rising from the ground. For residents of Queenhythe, a community just outside Discovery Bay in St Ann something odd is happening. On the compound of an old great house they have been noticing smoke rising from underneath the surface and it’s not the burning of charcoal according to the people. More
In the follow-up on this story a National Environment and Planning Agency official explains the presents of a hot spring beneath the surface. Skip to 18:57 into the video newscast.

From The Gleaner:
The 12 sites originally identified as potential geothermal energy sources have been narrowed to six as the feasibility studies unfold. 
Geologist Krishna Vaswani and partners in the project announced in January, aim to produce electricity from heat trapped underground, for the first time in Jamaica. 
Construction of the 15mw geothermal plant has a "likely" start date of 2016, but the final timeline will be determined by the research, the geologist said. Work on the plant should start in a year and a half after the research is concluded, he indicated. 
"We've done quite a bit of feasibility studies," said Vaswani, but he declined to name the six sites. 
He told Wednesday Business that the sites hold "potential" reserves, and that establishing the "proven" levels would happen at a later date. More

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Thales Bushmaster for Jamaica Defence Force (JDF)

From rjrnewsonline:
Cabinet has approved a five year re-capitalization project for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). It will allow the JDF to replace obsolete and unserviceable V150 armoured cars in its fleet.
Under the project, the Jamaica Defence Force will acquire 12 Thales Australia Bushmaster armoured personnel carriers (APCs), to be used to assist other ministries, departments and agencies.
This was revealed in a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister Monday night.
Currently the JDF has a complement of 14 Cadillac Gage V150s, 10 of which were acquired 37 years ago and the others in 1985.
Over the course of their service life the vehicles have been utilised in many high-risk situations such as internal security deployments while supporting the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
In addition they have been used in pre- and post-disaster response and rescue operations.
The Thales Bushmaster APC is designed for the urban operating environment, as well as rugged rural terrains and adverse conditions that exist in a major natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane.
Delivery of the Thales Bushmasters will begin in 2015.
It's about time! This is long overdue. Hopefully of that 12, there'll be at least 2 Bushmaster Ambulances in the mix. Saving lives is what it's all about.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

10 Things to Make a Better Jamaica Police

In a nutshell, here are 10 ideas for improving the police (in no particular order):

1. Cyber Crime Division. Expand the cyber crime unit to a much larger division with greater expertise in cybersecurity. There is a growing threat to the public from cyber criminals, like those involved in identity theft and the lottery scams targeting Jamaican and foreign nationals. Not to mention cyber espionage and the theft of sensitive economic data.

2. County-level policing. Re-organise the police into 3 main departments, namely the Cornwall County Police Dept., the Middlesex County Police Dept. and the Surrey County Police Dept. These 3 main divisions would provide larger jurisdictions for a more efficient patrolling and response to distress calls. No more itsy bitsy jurisdictions choking off the police in their hot pursuit of the bad guys. No police should see a crime unfolding and say 'That's out of our jurisdiction.' The current geographic divisions such as Area One, Area Two etc. need to be reviewed and updated. See: Geographic Areas, Divisions & Key Formations.

3. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Use them for highway patrol, search and rescue, surveillance of suspected ganja fields and the tracking of getaway suspects during car and foot chases etc. The police on the ground need support from the air. It's as simple as that.

4. Standardise police station architectural designs. Divisional headquarters should have the exact same layout and amenities. And the sub-stations should also have the exact same layout and amenities etc. Right now, there are some buildings leased by the government to use as police stations that are not suitable for such use. In some instances the police are unable to adequately interview individuals who wish to report a crime in person. No privacy. No confidentiality. No law and order.

5. Standardise police vehicles. Police cars should have partitions separating the front seats from the rear passenger seats. A single police officer should feel comfortable transporting multiple detainees seated in the back. Really? And all patrol vehicles should have a netbook with secure wireless intranet connection for accessing police database of the most wanted fugitives, licensed firearm holders data and driver's license data etc.

6. Merge the Marine Police with the Coast Guard so that there is a larger and more efficient Coast Guard under the command of the Jamaica Defence Force. Jamaica only needs one maritime security and defence force at sea. Whether inshore or offshore, the Coast Guard is all we need. Out with the Marine Police.

7. Merge Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Island Special Constabulary Force into a single police force and rename it Jamaica Police Agency. 'Constabulary' is a remnant of the colonial era, dump it. Nobody call the police 'Constabulary' anyway. We can also do without the 'Force' in the police's name, since we'd prefer less firepower and more brainpower in maintaining the peace.

8. A police detective school. The current police academy at Twickenham Park, needs such a school to transform the police from an army of Rambo to an army of Sherlock Holmes. So once again, less firepower and more brainpower.

9. Jamaica-made uniforms. The Ministry of National Security should help to reduce Jamaica's trade deficit (in a small act of patriotism) by sourcing uniforms and accoutrements from local manufacturers. The government is always chanting 'Buy Jamaican!' yet they do otherwise. The private security firms 'Buy Jamaican!' so put your money where your mouth is.

10. Beat and Foot Patrols should wear appropriate attire that gives them the advantage when chasing suspects on foot. How about running sneakers and jogging suits clearly marked 'Police' and have a unique design patented for exclusive use by the police? Yes, indeed. The police cannot run as best as they should in their current uniform and heavy boots, so many times they are either outrunned by the crooks, or don't even bother to give chase. The jogging outfit would also send a very clear message: This police is ready to chase you down from Negril Point to Morant Point. And back to Negril!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Canada To Set Up Military Base In Jamaica

And so it is in the news, once more. Canada negotiating a deal to establish a forward operating base in Jamaica:

OTTAWA, Canada, CMC – A top Canadian military official says that Ottawa is negotiating an arrangement with Jamaica to allow the Canadian military to stage out of the Caribbean island in the event of trouble or even natural disasters in the region.
Lieutenant General Stuart Beare, who’s in charge of Canada’s overseas military force, said that the two Commonwealth partners have been quietly developing closer ties that recently manifested itself with the deployment of three CH-146 Griffon helicopters to back up the Jamaica Defence Force.  
“We have a great partnership in the region,” he told reporters, adding “geographically, it’s in a perfect spot”. 
Beare said Jamaica’s position puts it at “an interesting crossroads” in the region, which has suffered its share from disasters ranging from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to repeated hurricane devastation. Read more

And the press release goes on and on about historic military ties and Canada providing military aid to Jamaica by training JDF commandos and building the Jamaica Military Aviation School and helping out with search and rescue missions etc.

A radar tracking station (left) and Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack airplanes (right).

Next year, Jamaica celebrates its 50th year as a sovereign nation, and how ironic that the Canadians will be arriving in time for the party, with military boots on the ground and a license to fly in and out of Jamaican airspace, at will. As a part of this deal, will the minister of national security (or the minister of defence) asked the Canadians to first establish a radar trafficking station and an airbase for the JDF Air Wing, along with two Super Tucano light attack aircraft, before they go ahead and set up this (temporary) base? And how long would they need to have this military base in Jamaica? Surely not half as long as the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Right?

The government cannot afford to sell Jamaica short on a deal of this nature. When the Canadians do decide to pack up and leave, Jamaica should have something worthwile to show for agreeing to 'compromise its national sovereignty.' The endgame is that Jamaica should become far better equipped and skilled, in patrolling and defending its own territorial airspace.