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Editors' Forum | JDF succession in train

Published:Sunday | March 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju - Gleaner Writer

Just over two years into his tenure as chief of defence staff, Lieutenant General Rocky Ricardo Meade has already met a personal objective of ensuring that there will be a suitable pool of qualified heirs when he demits office.

On December 1, 2016, the career soldier was appointed for an initial term of five years.

“Succession planning I’ve treated with immediately as I got the job. I have rearranged the structure of the force in a way that there is no one apparently earmarked successor. I have created a structure where I have brigades, and the brigade commanders are all one-star generals,” he told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum.

The top three forerunners would be Commodore Antonette Wemyss-Gorman, the first woman to achieve that rank in the JDF, which is the naval equivalent of a brigadier, a rank shared with Radgh Mason and Roderick Williams, whose latest promotions announced by the Defence Board took effect on February 15.

Prime minister’s choice

The army chief explained the thinking behind this proactive decision even though there are at least three years left on his contract.

“I don’t believe I should set a deck so that only one person has been groomed and then the prime minister virtually has no choice, and it means I am choosing, not him. I have groomed a slate of persons, given them all exposure, and so I am very comfortable with all of them. I am very confident in all of them,” he told journalists.

All three brigadiers accompany Meade to high-level meetings of national interest, including with the prime minister, and act for him whenever the need arises, on a rotational basis.

The chief of defence staff was coy in response to questions about when he will demit office.

“The prime minister has a vote, but I don’t think it will exceed three years,” Meade said.