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Army rejects suggestions it is not ready for deployment

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By Lamin Cham

The Gambia national army has dismissed suggestions that it does not have the capacity to deploy troops to Niger in case the need arises.

Ever since Ecowas leaders threatened to put up a force to deal with the coupists, citizens have been wondering whether Gambia will contribute troops.

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Former commander Samsudeen Sarr said the country’s army is not ready in terms of capacity to go to Niger where it could face danger from potential fighting.

Addressing these claims, Lt Col. Lamin Sanyang, the PRO of the Gambia Armed Forces, said those peddling such comments are out of touch with the realties in the army.

Sanyang said the Gambia has an impeccable record in foreign deployment with outstanding performances in places like Liberia and Dafur in Sudan. “The Gambian army has never had any adverse report on our personnel in any of these places. And I want to point out that even the voice behind these suggestions at one time praised the army for our professionalism. What has changed?” Sanyang asked.

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The PRO also said those saying the army might not be ready to go for deployment are linking it to what they erroneously said was a slow security sector reform.

“That process is ongoing as it is not a one-off event but a process. I think if those making that kind of comment are honest with themselves, they would accept that since 2017 there have been a lot of changes as part of the reforms. For a start, there has since 2018 been a full stand-alone ministry of defense as opposed to the past when it was under the presidency; there are also a national security adviser as well as policy documents such as the national security strategy and defense policy documents among other things,” Lt Col. Sanyang said.

He disclosed that the old and outdated Armed Forces Act 1984 will be replaced with the armed forces bill soon going to the Assembly. “All these, along with the upcoming new terms and conditions of service policy for the army, are part of the security sector reforms”, the PRO said.

He further said that even in the armed forces itself, there have been reforms such as the upgrading of the Kanilai and Basse companies to battalions as well as reassignments of officers at Army headquarters and Republican Guards headquarters. He said if the all-clear is given by the Commander-in-Chief in consultations with the National Assembly, the Gambia national army will be deployed.

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