By Kebba Secka
Seventy-four officers of the Gambia Armed Forces’ (GAF) Guards Batallion at Fajara Barracks, were on Thursday 2nd May 2019, promoted to various ranks.
The colourful ceremony was graced by Deputy Chief of Defense Staff (DCDS) Major General Yakubu Drammeh, senior military officers and family members.
In a lengthy speech characterised by advice to the graduating soldiers, Drammeh told them to stay away from politics, and commit themselves to practical duties of GAF, and to operate within the confinement of their Constitutional mandate and loyalty to the state.
“We are not politicians. We are a practical force. Anybody who wants to be a politician, should give away their uniforms and join politics,” he advised.
Major General Drammeh opined that the military’s separation from politics is the only way, to earn them merit and professionalism.
“We should report any act that will jeopardize the peace and tranquility of this country,” he advised. Drammeh congratulated the promoted soldiers and warned them of the adage that ‘‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’’ He described their promotion as an additional responsibility and function that lies on their shoulders as servants of the state. He said all military officers have a role to play in the transformation of the current military situation of the country, to a better level. He expressed confidence that achieving this transformation will come but only through commitment and dedication by the men and women in uniform. He challenged them to always show discipline both within and outside the barracks.
On his part, the Guards Battalion Commander Major Yaya Darbo, gave a brief history of this Unit of GAF which he said was established in 1921, and later transformed from the Colonial Forces to the African Frontier Force, later the Field Force, and then the Gambia Gendarmerie to what is now the Guards Battalion, which in turn is under the National Republican Guards. According to Major Darbo, the transformation and establishment of the Guards Battalion was in line with an Act of the National Assembly. He thanked the leadership of GAF for being constant providers of military gadgets, and evaluators and monitors of soldiers’ warfare. To members of Guards Battalion, Major Darbo said not all who deserve promotion could be given ranks but challenged those who have not been promoted, to remain steadfast, committed and dedicated to duty.
“For those who have not been promoted, it does not mean that you are weak in duty but rather your time is not yet. Therefore, be rest assured that your time will come one day,” he told soldiers. He concluded by expressing special thanks to businesses and other institutions such as the KMC, Jah Oil and Modou Touray Darbo, for their valuable support to GAF.
The vote of thanks was given by Staff Sgt Bakary Ceesay on behalf of the promoted soldiers. Staff Sgt. Ceesay expressed gratitude to their commander-in-chief President Adama Barrow, the leadership of GAF and family members, and promised that they will live up to expectation. The promoted soldiers were promoted to the ranks of Warrant Officer Class One and Two (WOI/ WOII), Staff Sergeants, Sergeants, Corporals and Lance Corporals.