EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Government’s plan to transform The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) from its jungle-oriented format is taking a new shape with the promotion of additional income ventures for members of the force.
President Adama Barrow said in his State of the Nation address before the National Assembly on Thursday that the Ministry of Defence is closely collaborating with GAF to develop and reform the Armed Forces, to bring in a new glory of correctly disciplined and professional force in the country.
When he took office in January 2017, Mr Barrow ordered the army to leave all street posts which they were addicted to during the 22-year rule of the former military captain, Yahya Jammeh.
For the new government, the return of soldiers to barracks was a right move to usher in a real change in a military that had been pampered to emphasise force on civilians in their show of political loyalty to the ruling government.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed military troops to help the country in its efforts to restore democracy and good governance. The mandate of the ECOWAS Military Intervention in The Gambia (ECOMIG), which began in January 2017, was extended as the country’s security reforms take slow speed.
The president spoke high of the military engagement in the skills industry, and agriculture that brings about additional income for them in addition to their social engagements away from serious duties. “In other fields of service, our soldiers continue to provide medical and educational services, and they are involved in construction works, crop production and poultry,” he said.
In April, the government supported the launching of a large-scale agricultural project for the army in which the Chief of Defence Staff said his men are prepared to feed the nation with even a surplus for export.
A soldier in the Gambia remains positive for better standard of living as long as there are chances of personal development and military missions, both within and outside the country.
Aside from their voluntary cleansing exercises across the country, the president recognised that “our Armed Forces participate in multinational peace and security operations, as well as in training and joint military exercises.”
In the face of testimonies at the ongoing Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, credibility of several high-ranking officers have been tainted for their role in the ‘undisciplined’ jungler unit that allegedly served under the command of the exiled former president.
In addition to the interim measures towards a force in the public interest, the National Security Sector Reform is expected to give assurance that The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) is fully ready to take care of all defence and security matters of the country.