Despite boasting of grooming one of the finest communications strategists in the country, the already battered image of the Gambia army is in fact becoming more cumbersome to redeem.
Major Lamin K. Sanyang is undeniably an astute communications strategist, both in and out of the glaring public view. We can attest to that! But in situations when the meticulous army mouthpiece had to find himself besieged with a deluge of queries from the shouting press about the unmilitary conducts of some of our men in khaki, then our army is indeed in a precarious public relations situation.
The Gambia National Army now detached into various battalions and formations and rebaptised, had been exceptional, both nationally and globally. Let’s not forget that despite upsetting a constitutional order in 1994, men and women of the army have proven that the creation, maintenance and sustenance of an organized, disciplined body of soldiers and officers were worth it. They did it in Liberia when that country was in the throes of a sanguinary civil war from the late 80s to nearly the beginning of the new millennium. Peacekeepers from The Gambia alongside their comrades from other West African countries did sterling work of restoring relative peace to Liberia. Similar tales abound of our gallant men and women in other conflict zones on the continent and beyond.
In addition, our army had succeeded in quelling incursions and resisted the temptation in 2016 of a mindless, megalomaniac dictator to plunge the country into anarchy. Their exploits are just many and they give every patriotic Gambian sense of pride.
However, our army has found it almost impossible to wriggle itself out of the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
It is incontrovertible that one of the many assets of the army is discipline but if the arm bearers could go on a drinking binge in a passenger vehicle or engage in trafficking of drugs or stealing fuel coupons entrusted in their care or found guilty of forming a WhatsApp group to plot against our hard-fought and earned democracy, then it can be said that the army is indeed sadly experiencing a calamitous drop in good reputation.
So, what has gone so wrong? And forgetting about the collective shame that some of these actions bring us, how about other implications that these actions could cause?
It will not be easy but it is possible; that this army can and will restore public confidence. And once that is done, hopefully in the near future, then the Gambia Armed Forces can henceforth institute mechanisms that will stand the test of time and, indeed, instil discipline and professionalism.
We believe you can do it!