By Omar Bah
President Adama Barrow has yesterday presided over the launching of the country’s first ever defense policy.
Addressing the ceremony at the Sir Dawda Jawara Kairaba Conference Centre, President Barrow said the policy is founded on the sanctity of the country’s sovereignty, national interests, core values, and commitment to a favourable world order and regional security resilience.
“It is a historic moment for us,” he added.
President Barrow said the National Defence Policy was part of the recommendations on the security sector reform agenda, and it stemmed from the need to critically evaluate the Defence sector and outline the weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities therein.
“The goal of this undertaking is to transform The Gambia Armed Forces into a highly professional, well-trained, and disciplined unit that is responsive to the needs of the country, through the effective and efficient delivery of security services under democratic oversight and conditions,” he disclosed.
He said providing defence and security is a complex endeavour; therefore, as a country, “we cannot ignore, under-estimate or downplay our security risks”.
“Thus, it is crucial to determine our national priorities and adopt implementable policies consistent with them. Preserving the integrity and sovereignty of The Gambia requires the commitment of all citizens, and not just the armed forces,” he said.
He said his government’s aggressive push for security sector reforms was meant to analyse the existing opportunities and challenges that have to be addressed in the country in respect of delivering accountable, transparent, professional, apolitical, and responsive security services for the people.
“Considering the concerted efforts made to develop the country’s National Security Policy and Strategy, the security sector, in particular, must also be congratulated on the progress made so far. The tasks before them provided a wide contextual framework from which derived the Defence Policy we are launching today,” he said.
This development, he added, is a clear testimony that his government takes the security sector reforms seriously.
“Our commitment to the reforms is in recognition of the fact that, without security, peace, and stability, economic growth cannot be achieved,” he noted.
He implored the ministry of defence to take full responsibility for the policy implementation process and ensure that the much-anticipated outcomes of the reforms in the defence sector are achieved.
“The government will continue to work towards enhancing and developing the capacity of the armed forces and promoting security awareness and patriotism among the citizens of the country,” he said.