Army chief aims to transform GAF

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Chief of Defence Staff, Yakuba Drammeh, said his vision is to transform the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) to an apolitical entity.

CDS Drammeh said this while presiding over the opening of a two-day validation workshop on the Gambia’s National Defense Policy. He said after assuming the mantle of leadership of GAF, he carved out a vision to define and guide his ambitions to move the country’s armed forces to the next level in order to address the concerns.

“My vision is to move the Armed Forces to a highly transformed, motivated, apolitical and non-tribally inclined Armed Forces that is well equipped and prepared to execute its constitutional roles, contributing meaningfully to national development,” he said.

“It also entails making the Armed Forces prepared to play its key role in the maintenance of regional and global peace and stability and at the same time subjected to democratic civilian control and accountability.”

CDS Drammeh however said his vision cannot be achieved in the absence of coordination and synergy of efforts at all levels, requisite trainings, sound administration and the corresponding logistics.

“It is my expressed view that this laudable vision should be supported by a comprehensive and futuristic policy guidelines and framework that would serve as enablers in realizing our collective aspirations and pursuits,” he said.

Drammeh said a country’s defence policy is an embodiment of its foreign policy. He hailed the drafters of the national defence policy for taking into consideration the core values and national interest, which embodies the security of The Gambia and her citizenry.

“In translating these facts into tangible actions, there is absolute need to ensure that the Gambia Armed Forces possess the right capability and training to successfully defend the Gambian people, its political sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is succinctly captured in subsection 3 of section 186 of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia,” he said.

Drammeh said the current framework has not been adequately resourced to address the emerging security threats, saying one of the biggest security contemporary challenges is terrorism. He said it is evident that no country is immune from the scourge of terrorism.

He said the policy provides a theoretical basis of the national defence to guarantee national security against threats and aggression, and that the national defence policy will serve as a policy framework to harmonize the collective national interest with the available resources in designing strong defence strategy and national security.

He said the roles of the Gambia Armed Forces, as dictated in section 187 of the 1997 constitution are to defend and preserve the territorial integrity of the Gambia, to aid the civil authority upon request during natural disaster and emergency and to engage in productive activities such as engineering, education, health and agriculture for the development of the Gambia upon request.