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Antonette Wemyss Gorman – Historic Jamaican Woman And the Next Army Boss

by Deon Clarke | Associate Writer


Suddenly the name Antonette Wemyss Gorman is a hot topic. So what’s all this buzz about? And why? Who is she? And what does she have to do with making history?

Yes, it’s Jamaica at it again for you. It seems Jamaicans are always in the mood to make history. Oh Yes, this is historic on many levels. Read along to learn more.

Commodore Antonette Wemyss Gorman is a breath away from becoming the next Chief of Defence Staff in the the Jamaica Defense Force! Take a deep breath and let that sink in. She will be replacing Lieutenant General Rocky Meade who will be retiring soon. Yes, you read right!. At this point, she is the only female slated to be an army “boss” in the entire world. She would be the second female in history to attain this position, after the Slovenian, Alenka Ermenc who was head of the Slovenian Armed Forces from November 28, 2018, to March 14, 2020.

This announcement that the highest-ranked female in the JDF, Commodore Antonette Wemyss Gorman, is to be our next army chief, marks a pivotal moment in the JDF; it should also serve as a catalyst for females of all ages and societal ranks. I believe they will be newly motivated to strive for their goals and never give up on their dreams. It also augurs well for gender equality.

A trail of success has adorned the path of this 29 year veteran of the JDF. She has been promoted to several strategic posts, seemingly in preparation to seize this historic moment. Additionally, she is the recipient of local and international awards, among other noteworthy accomplishments, with several being first for a female. We definitely do not want the achievements of this woman to go unnoticed. As we await the spine-tingling moment when the appointment becomes effective- as early as January 2022, let’s salute Commodore Antonette Wemyss Gorman.
  1. Commodore Wemyss Gorman is poised to become the only female army head in the world as long as no other female is appointed ahead of her in any other country before her appointment in January 2022.

  2. At age 48yrs, she is the first female ever to be appointed as Chief of Staff for the nearly 60-year-old Jamaican Military

  3. She will become the first woman to be appointed to the rank of Rear Admiral within the JDF as soon as her position as Chief of Defence Staff is formalized

  4. She is the most senior ranking female and Naval officer in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF)

  5. Presently she is the only female to attain a flag rank (an officer who commands presence at sea by flying a flag). She has spent more than half of her time in the JDF, aboard different types of ships in the JDF Coast Guard

  6. During her 15 years aboard JDF Coast Guard ships, she was deployed to Haiti as well and sailed throughout the Caribbean, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and many other countries on several diplomatic missions

  7. She went overseas to complete her professional development training at the Britannia Royal Naval College, HMS Dryadin, and the US Naval War College. She also obtained a Master’s Degree with distinction in National Security and Strategic Studies from the University of the West Indies (UWI)

  8. As the architect behind the establishment of the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre (CMMTC) in 2012, she developed the core courses for the centre. This includes a flagship Bridge Watchkeeping course for officers and the Naval Boarding Party course for those enlisted. This initiative saw over 300 persons being trained from within the JDF and local and regional partners alike

  9. She bears responsibility for the Maritime Air and Cyber Command which includes the JDF Air Wing, JDF Coast Guard, and Special Forces

  10. Outside of the JDF, Wemyss Gorman has held several noteworthy positions such as a secondment to the Ministry of Transport and Works where she worked as Deputy Director for Marine Transport; appointments to the Fisheries Advisory Board; and appointment to the National Covid-19 Response Advisory Committee

  11. She has held the rank of Commodore (the naval equivalent of a brigadier) since February 15, 2019

  12. She was the first sea-going officer to serve in the JDF

  13. First female to the rank of Commander in 2014

  14. First female to the rank of Captain (N) in 2018

  15. She collaborates with the Women Leadership Initiative (WLI) arm of the United Nations through which she provides charitable service to girls as she is very passionate about female empowerment

  16. She is a country girl; hailing from Top Alston in Clarendon where she grew up with her grandparents

  17. Her educational journey started at Knox Preparatory School in the parish and she continued to Knox College

  18. Her employment journey started as a customer service representative in 1990 when she joined Cable and Wireless (now FLOW). Two years later, at the age of 19, she joined the JDF

  19. And there’s more! She has received many awards as listed below:
    • The Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for her distinguished military service
    • The Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service
    • The Military Commendation Medal
    • The Medal of Honor for General Service for operations in the local theatre
    • International award for distinguished leadership from the United Nations Women Leadership Initiative (WLI) in 2015

  20. You would wonder where she would find time to be a wife and a mother despite her hectic schedule and many commitments but she is. She is married to Jonathan Wemyss Gorman and has a 15-year-old son, James. She is an avid gardener.
Wow, a staggering amount of accolades! Can you believe one person could achieve so much! However, her response to her appointment is tempered with humility, describing herself as “just another Jamaican who has the opportunity to serve the country.”

Never underestimate the strength of a woman. A truly deserving Chief of Staff, pioneering the way for female empowerment and gender equality. The Commodore has committed to inspiring women to follow in her footsteps. Women and men of every rank salute you Commodore Wemyss Gorman! Truly a Jamaican setting the right trends.

I also recommend you read The Jamaican Military System (Plus The Application Form).

Regards,
DC

References:
  • 12 things about history-making Antonette Wemyss Gorman, Loop Jamaica, https://jamaica.loopnews.com/content/12-things-about-history-making-antonette-wemyss-gorman
  • Jamaica Observer, https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/modest-history-maker-i-m-just-another-jamaican-who-has-an-opportunity-to-serve-the-country-says-incoming-chief-of-defence-staff-antonette-wemyss-gorman_231962
  • More history greets Wemyss Gorman's pending appointment as JDF head, Loop Jamaica, https://jamaica.loopnews.com/content/more-history-greets-wemyss-gormans-pending-appointment-jdf-head
  • Force Executive Officer | JDF.org The Official Website of The Jamaica Defence Force, https://www.jdfweb.com/force-executive-officer/

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