By Makuta Manneh and Nelson Manneh
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces, (GAF) Lieutenant General Yakuba Drammeh, has recently returned home from Senegal where he embarked on a 4 – day working visit to his Senegalese Counterpart, Air Force General Birom Diop from 24 – 27 February 2021.
The CDS was accompanied by the Commander of the Gambia National Army, Brigadier General Ousman Gomez, the Commander of the Gambia Navy, Commodore Madani Senghore as well as Principal Staff Officers of GAF.
The visit came on the heels of invitation extended to General Drammeh by the CDS of the Senegalese Armed Forces (SAF) during the meeting of the two Chiefs in June last year at Kerr Ayub border post in Farafenni.
Major Lamin Sanyang the Spokesperson of the Gambia Armed Force said the CDS was taken by his host on conducted tours and visits to training institutions and facilities of the SAF such as the Military Academy (ENOA) to Mount Roland Training Center, 9 km North-East of Thies where 50 GAF personnel are currently undergoing Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) training.
CDS Drammeh was briefed on the history, curriculum and recruitment process of the academy.
Major Sanyang said the 50 GAF personnel on APC training in Thies, Senegal are composed of one officer, 19 mechanics, 19 drivers and a mounting/dismounting team of 10 personnel as well as a gunner.
“These personnel constitute part of the 250 – strong Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Company which was pledged by GAF for deployment into a UN mission,” he said.
Readers would recall that an Advanced Advisory Visit (AAV) was conducted virtually in December 2020 by the UN Department of Peace Operations to gauge the operational readiness and capability of GAF to deploy a QRF in a UN mission to be determined. While briefing the CDS, the Chief Instructor Captain Fallou Tine informed the CDS that the training was going as planned and that the trainees are well-motivated and disciplined. Captain Tine also stated that his instructors are encouraged by the GAF soldiers’ enthusiasm to learn and as a result assured that they would also share their knowledge and experience with the troops.
Sanyang said General Drammeh paid a courtesy call on the Gambia’s High Commission in Dakar where he was received by the Ambassador His Excellency Hadrammeh Sidibeh. During the engagement that ensued which was chaired by the Deputy Head of Mission, Dr Mariam John and attended by staff of the High Commission, the CDS informed the High Commissioner that the purpose of his visit was to enhance the relations between the two countries and the Armed Forces. General Drammeh informed the High Commissioner that the apparent lack of a Defence Attaché (DA) at the High Commission has and is greatly hampering coordination between the two Armed Forces.
The PRO said the CDS also paid a courtesy call on the Minister of the Armed Forces of Senegal, Mr. Sidiki Kaba as well as on the Commander of the Senegalese National Gendarmerie and Director of Military Justice, Lieutenant General Jean Baptiste Tine.
“In his engagements with General Tine, who is responsible for the protection of the President of the Republic of Senegal, among other things, General Drammeh thanked General Tine for the training that was offered to 300 GAF personnel of the new composite Presidential Guard of The Gambia in 2018 and 2019 at no cost to GAF or the government of The Gambia. General Drammeh further engaged his counterpart on the possibility of follow-up training for the Presidential Guards in the areas of counter-terrorism, VIP protection and escort duties, amongst others. In response, General Tine indicated his institution’s readiness and willingness to provide such training once all the modalities are put in place,” he noted.