Task Force JAMAICA
Sep 15, 2011

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Canadian Forces and hospital staff transfer a medical evacuation patient from a CH-146 Griffon Helicopter, at the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing. 

Task Force Jamaica, which deployed in early August, is comprised of 65 Canadian Forces members and three CH-146 Griffon helicopters. Their mission is to provide military aviation and SAR support (both inland and over water) to the Government of Jamaica and the Jamaica Defence Force. They will also conduct essential training of Canadian Forces search and rescue teams.

The Griffons are from 5 Wing Goose Bay in Labrador and 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. The aircrews and maintenance personnel come from 444 Combat Support Squadron at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Labrador; 439 Combat Support Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec; and 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.
CEFCOM Commander, LGen Stuart Beare, examines the area of responsibility with Op Jaguar’s Commander, LCol Christian Lalande (right).

The aircraft and personnel of Task Force Jamaica will return to Canada at the end of November, or when the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing SAR capability is sufficiently restored to meet operational requirements, whichever comes sooner.

The three Griffon helicopters, each sporting a fresh paint job in SAR red and yellow, are fully equipped for SAR operations as if they were based in Canada.

Task Force Jamaica achieved a significant milestone on 19 September, with the CH-146 Griffon fleet flying their 100th sortie since deploying to Jamaica in early August. “Reaching 100 sorties is important as it helps mark the progress we are making not only in Force Generation training, but also in our mission support to the Jamaica Defence Force when called upon,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Lalande, Commander of Task Force Jamaica.

Of those 100 sorties, seven have been flown in support of the Jamaica Defence Force, six have been casualty evacuation missions, and one was a brief search and rescue (SAR) mission in the Montego Bay region. Since the mission achieved full operational capability on 23 August, five casualties, ranging in age from 1 day old to 54 years, have been transported to Kingston area hospitals by Griffon helicopters. The majority of the sorties, however, have been for pilot and flight engineer training. To date, 10 pilots, 5 flight engineers, and 11 search and rescue technicians have participated in Force Generation training, resulting in 14 qualifications achieved so far.

“It is clear that this operation is running very smoothly, and in addition to helping the Jamaica Defence Force, this concentration of SAR expertise is accelerating our training of new Search and Rescue crews so that they continue to be there when Canadians need us,” said Major-General Alain Parent, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.

During his recent visit to Operation Jaguar, MGen Parent thanked the Task Force members for their service, and their families for supporting them while they are deployed.

During his visit, MGen Parent presented 1 Canadian Air Division Commander Coins to Sergeant Steve Levesque, Master Corporal Denise Gaudet, and Master Corporal Adrian DeSilva, acknowledging their hard work and exemplary contributions to the Operation.

Task Force Jamaica, consisting of three CH-146 Griffon helicopters and approximately 60 Canadian Forces personnel, deployed in early August 2011, following a request from the Government of Jamaica for assistance to bridge a gap in the aviation capabilities of the Jamaica Defence Force while their helicopter fleet is being repaired. Canada and Jamaica have enjoyed 45 years of military cooperation, helping the JDF improve their capabilities.

Task Force Jamaica is proud to add another page to the history of cooperation and support experienced by both militaries. Next year will mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two Commonwealth nations
Captain Steven Dieter, Task Force Jamaica.
© FrontLine Defence 2011