After a lay-off of some 15 years Exercise RED STRIPE, which like the famous Jamaican beer takes its name from the red stripes on the trousers worn by the island’s police, has been resurrected. The exercise is set to further invigorate UK/Jamaican Defence co-operation; Exercise Red Stripe is a reciprocal exercise and as such 70 soldiers from the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) will travel to the UK later in the year and, once again, team up with the Welsh Guards but this time experience life in the British Army and continue the training programme, albeit in a very different setting.
Number Two Company Welsh Guards were based at the JDF’s Titchfield Camp in Port Antonio in the north-east of the Caribbean Island. The camp forms part of the shell of what was once a magnificently opulent hotel, destroyed by fire in 1905. It played host to a multitude of stars from Hollywood’s golden inter-war years and at one point was owned by the legendary swashbuckler, Errol Flynn.
From their Port Antonio base the Number Two Company pushed up into the close country tropical environment that are the jungles in the foothills of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. Although famed for the wonderful coffee these mountains produce, they are lesser known for the sheer volume of rain they create as warm moist air barrels in across the Caribbean and is then forced up creating daily tropical downpours. Whilst jungle training the soldiers were perpetually drenched, often through sweat or wading their way through river systems, but more-often-than-not it was from the daily deluge they received from the clouds above.
The Officer Commanding Number Two Company, Major Gambarini set in train three main objectives to be achieved through the course of Ex Red Stripe. The first being to complete an arduous jungle training exercise, second to increase interoperability and defence relations between Jamaican and UK forces and third, to provide a career highlight for the young Guardsmen by giving them a wholly different training experience as well as a cultural eye opener to an unfamiliar location.
The MOD Exercise RED STRIPE news article can be found here.