By Ndey Sowe
The Ministry of Defence has inaugurated its first National Defence Policy Drafting Committee for The Gambia since independence on Wednesday, 24th February, 2021 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Center in Bijilo.
The drafting committee has already been formally identified to work on the policy document, which will be the most important document that will guide the ministry in its mandate to function more effectively as an oversight body to The Gambia Armed Forces.
The policy will also ensure full civilian control over the Armed Forces as enshrined in the Security Sector Reform recommendations.
Sheikh Omar Faye, the Minister of Defence, said the inauguration was a milestone in their collective journey to ensure good governance, security and the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. He added that the initiative is in fulfillment of the country’s ongoing security sector reform.
He remarked: “I know that the term security sector reform is largely misunderstood by a lot of people, therefore, let me quickly state that security sector reform is not an imposition by anyone on The Gambia. Indeed, it is one of the cardinal programmes of President Adama Barrow’s government that is aimed at improving life in The Gambia.”
The minister said the national security strategy has all the gamut of threats to security in The Gambia and recommended possible ways to dealing with these threats. He said the committee has a serious task shrugged on their shoulders, thus he implored them to handle the task with all the seriousness it deserves. Faye also urged them to deploy the qualities of patriotism, loyalty to the nation and sacrifice in the discharge of their duties.
David Belgrove, the British High Commissioner to The Gambia, said the event is an important stage in The Gambia’s transition and in consolidating the gains in recent years.
“It is important for the whole of the Gambia’s security sector because national defense is not just about one organization, but an integrated cross government task under democratic civilian rule,” he noted.
He commended the Gambia Government on the step it has taken to date on security sector reform. He thanked the minister and the defence ministry for the initiative.
Deputizing for the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Major General Omar O. Cham, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, said the document is an important one and he is glad that henceforth, it will form part of their policy documents to guide the operationalization of the activities of the Gambia Armed Forces.
He said: “Today marks an important milestone in organizing our security sector reform undertaken by the government and supported by our strategic partners most especially the United Kingdom government.”
He added that the policy will form part of a broader strategy and policy guiding document which covers everything from ends to means of achieving national defence objectives and it will guide the codes and principles that are embedded in the national security policy.
“It is a public policy document and many facets of its security will inform the military policies, the defense and other elements of national security,” he said.
Meanwhile, he emphasized that the drafting of a national defence policy is a necessary requirement for the re-organisation, reform and transformation and changes needed to modernize and professionalize the Gambia Armed Forces.
He also said the policy document will ensure that the laws, policies and other legislations necessary for the reformation process are in tune with the letter and spirit of the country’s constitution based on democratic civilian authority, control and oversight of the Armed Forces in line with international standards and best practices.