Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Spy plane data was useless - JDF commander

Published:Thursday | October 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

A TOP military commander during the May 2010 operations in the west Kingston has revealed that he could not rely on information supplied by a surveillance aircraft provided by the United States government.

The problem, according to Lt Col Jamie O'Gilvie, commander of the Second Battalion Jamaica Regiment of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) during the operations, was that the information from the US aircraft was being provided to Jamaican operatives "over a radio through a third party".

"So the aircraft was communi-cating to a team on the ground in Jamaica, who were then radioing us at JDF headquarters to say there are persons moving here and persons moving there," O'Gilvie explained during testimony before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry yesterday.

"For me, that didn't offer the integrity and validity of the information that I could rely on ... [regarding] communications that emanated from the [US] plane. I determined very quickly that I was unable to rely on it for effective command and control," he continued.




To compound the problem, O'Gilvie said in cases where armed thugs were spotted, the US aircraft did not have the "situational awareness" to tell local law-enforcement operatives which streets they were seen on.

"In one instance, there were men moving in the community north of Spanish Town Road (Denham Town). I don't think they had the situational awareness to name the street, and so it was likely to create more confusion if I were to then pass that to my soldiers to say, 'men in Denham Town'. I needed far more specific information," he explained.

Instead, O'Gilvie told the three-member commission probing the conduct of the operations, he relied on the live feed that was being transmitted to the army's operations room from a JDF helicopter that was flying over Tivoli Gardens.

"The helicopter was trans-mitting live images to people who ... knew the area. They could name streets, name buildings, ... and that is what I really relied on," he testified.

O'Gilvie said two soldiers who breached army regulations in separate incidents in the days after the main operation were sentenced to 28 days in a military prison.

He also testified that the two lance corporals, who were in charge of their units, were demoted to privates for failing to provide proper supervision.

According to him, one of the soldiers was found guilty of leaving his assigned post to "put argument" to a woman in the Matthews Lane area, while the other was found guilty of "boxing and kicking" a man in Arnett Gardens.

O'Gilvie also said an ex-soldier, who had formerly been a member of his battalion, was held during the operations among a group of men believed to be helping to thwart the capture of drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The hearing is scheduled to continue today.