By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Monette Wesolek
District of Columbia National Guard
KINGSTON, Jamaica (7/23/12) - As the aircraft’s wheels touched down June 27 in a small airport in Jamaica, no pomp and circumstance were spared as Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, began his brief visit with the island nation and the Jamaica Defence Force.
The visit was in recognition of the Jamaica Defence Force’s first Military Tattoo in almost 30 years, and included tours of Defence Force facilities and training sites, as well as a performance by the 257th Army Band.
The District of Columbia National Guard is partnered with Commonwealth of Jamaica through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
As the general walked through several training sites, he observed demonstrations of methods and procedures used by the Jamaica Defence Force for hostage extraction, civil disturbance and emergency operations. At one of their sites, Jamaican soldiers at a rappel tower showed how they are able to rappel into an area and clear an area of hostage takers and other hostiles.
During their visit here, the 257th Army Band performed at an open air mall where they played mostly classic American military songs, but visitors to the mall were not opposed to enjoying the up-beat tunes. At one point, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sharon Toulouse, the conductor of the 257th, seized upon the opportunity to dance with some of the children.
“It’s all about the hearts and minds,” Toulouse said.
The highlight of the trip was the Jamaica Defence Force’s Military Tattoo, which featured brother and sister services from partner nations displaying their talents, tactics and procedures
Demonstrations included rappelling out of helicopters, to hand-to-hand combat and fire fighting techniques from local civilian emergency services.The events featured here showcased just how well the Jamaica Defence Force works with the various civilian and military entities here and around the world, Schwartz said. “This is a great opportunity for the D.C. National Guard and the [Jamaica Defence Force] to share ideas and plan for the way ahead.”