The Commander of U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, visited Jamaica Jan. 20-22, meeting with security leaders to reaffirm support of the U.S.-Jamaica security partnership.
Richardson also attended the historic Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) change-of-command Jan. 21 as Rear Adm. Antonette Wemyss-Gorman was sworn in as the force’s first female Chief of Defence Staff.
Richardson’s trip was her first to the Caribbean since assuming command Oct. 29, 2021. She was joined by Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard, along with a SOUTHCOM delegation that included Civilian Deputy to the Commander, Amb. Jean Manes, and Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones.
The United States enjoys a strong security partnership with Jamaica and Richardson’s visit was an opportunity to hear firsthand from Jamaican security leaders their views on security, get an understanding of their challenges and explore opportunities for future partnering and engagement.
"This visit reinforces the important role Jamaica Defense Forces play as a regional security leader, and its close collaboration with key allies and partners,” Richardson said during a press briefing Jan. 22.
“Jamaica’s invaluable role as the number-one security leader in the Caribbean is extremely important, as our hemisphere faces cross-cutting threats from malign external state actors, transnational criminal organizations, cyber attacks, natural disasters brought on by climate change, and of course, responding to COVID-19," she said.
On Jan. 20, the general met with Jamaican Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, to discuss regional security and the strengthening of the U.S.-Jamaica partnership.
Prior to the JDF change-of-command Jan. 21, Richardson met with United Kingdom and Canadian security partners who are in Jamaica to contribute to Caribbean security.
On Jan. 22, Richardson and McCandless met with Wemyss-Gorman to discuss both countries’ longstanding defense partnership, cooperation in support of regional security, as well as the threats and challenges in the Caribbean.
Also during the trip, Richardson, McCandless and Manes joined Wemyss-Gorman to talk with Jamaican service members about ongoing implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Later, Richardson and Command Sgt. Maj. Jones spent time with a group of Jamaican non-commissioned officers to discuss the importance of enlisted leader professional development and the vital role NCOs play in military missions worldwide.
Both discussions are part of the command's long-term cooperation and institutional capacity building efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The general visited Jamaica’s Caribbean Military Aviation School on the 22nd to see how the school contributes to regional security by training future pilots and aircraft technicians for Jamaica Defence Force and partner nation militaries.
"We are steadfastly committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with Jamaica and the Caribbean in support of shared security goals and to further strengthen the longstanding security ties between our countries,” Richardson said.