PM: New national security adviser ‘ready to go from Day One’ due to experience, competencies
By Valencia Grant, Office of the Prime Minister
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Retired Maj. Gen. Stewart Saunders possesses the necessary competencies to succeed as national security adviser, said the prime minister, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, today, noting that the government’s new hire once led the Jamaica Defence Force with distinction from 2007-2010.
The command of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) rests with the chief of defence staff appointed by the Governor-General. Notably, Saunders served as the JDF’s first chief of defence staff. In 2007, the command was changed from chief of staff (there were eight chiefs of staff between 1962 and 2007) to chief of defence staff.
Today during the sitting of the National Assembly, Harris added that the retired major general’s skillsets equip him to be “ready to go from Day One” as the chief professional adviser on national security matters in the Office of the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The office holder obviously should bring his expert knowledge and experience to bear on policy formulation and implementation,” said Harris, who is also the minister of national security.
Harris also noted that the new national security adviser, who retired as chief of defence staff in October 2010 after serving the JDF with distinction for 37 years, has more than 40 years of experience at the operational, strategic and tactical levels and has played a major role in legislative reform in Jamaica.
There, the major general held prominent jobs after retiring from the Jamaica Defence Force, such as senior consultant/national security adviser to then-national security minister, Peter Bunting, and permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security.
Harris went on to say that Saunders’ demonstrated leadership in the development of anti-gang legislation, for instance, dovetails nicely with the national security priorities of the Team Unity government.
“This [the development of anti-gang legislation] is something that [Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley] has asked us to become more aggressive in its implementation,” Harris said, adding that the new adviser has had a hand in formulating and refining other pieces of legislation in Jamaica, such as its DNA Evidence Act and Road Traffic Act.
Harris then mentioned Saunders’ notable work with respect to transforming the National Forensic Laboratory and establishing the Anti-Corruption Branch of Jamaica. When he was permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Saunders led a steering committee that oversaw the policy implementation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).
“When you look at all of these – these are matters now in vogue in terms of our own security action plan, and we are bringing on board at this time a man who has a wealth of knowledge,” Harris said.
During his distinguished career in the Jamaica Defence Force, St. Kitts-Nevis’ new national security adviser received the Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service, as well as a Medal of Honour for General Service for his service in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada.