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GAF clears air on stipend row for soldiers who returned from Turkey 

GAF clears air on stipend row for soldiers who returned from Turkey 

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By Omar Bah

Following complaints from soldiers who were part of the 250 quick reaction force that recently returned from training in Turkey over unpaid travel allowances, GAF has issued a statement dismissing the claims.

In a write-up shared with The Standard, the soldiers alleged the army has not given the D111,852 stipend owed to those with ranks of sergeant and below and D137,488 to staff sergeants.

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While in Turkey, the soldiers said they were paid US$507 stipend by the Turkish government for the 83 days. However, according to them, if that amount is deducted from the US$2,843 GAF should pay to sergeants and lower rank holders and US$3,151 for staff sergeants, they should receive D111,852 and D137,488 respectively.

“We want to respectfully ask the army command to facilitate the payment of our stipend because we are not going to let it go like that. You cannot deny us our stipend when people are receiving thousands of dalasis for going on treks inside the country,” they said.

Refutation

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However, in a statement on Friday, the army said the claim is “not only misleading and malicious but also out of context and devoid of relevant facts.”

“GAF Command held a meeting with the top tier of QRF 2 at the Defence Headquarters shortly before their departure to Turkey and one of the critical agenda items discussed was allowance. During the said meeting, it was indicated that the current terms and conditions of service has provisions for troops’ course or training allowance.

“Nonetheless, for training programmes that are fully funded such as this particular one in question, only departure allowances are paid based on the following reasons: troop’s feeding is borne by the host country; uniform clothing and relevant training gears and equipment are provided for by host country; a monthly stipend is paid by host country when deployed; transportation while away is provided and paid for by host country; return air transport is entirely funded by the host country; training facilities and facilitators are provided at no cost to the individual and the training and knowledge acquired belongs to the individual for eternity and the certificate earned as a result. Others that could be fit to be referred to as miscellaneous are all taken care of, not at the individual’s expense. Hence the Turkish government and Armed Forces have fulfilled all the above mentioned.

“It is equally important to highlight the fact that during the farewell briefing for QRF 2 that was graced by the current Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and the GAF director of finance at The Gambia Armed Forces Training School, the above conditions were explained to the troops. In his remarks, the finance director said that GAF has sent troops to several countries including Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and United Arab Emirates and severally, others to Senegal with similar financial conditions accorded. The same conditions apply to the recent contingent (QRF 3) in Turkey.

“Furthermore, during the farewell briefing of personnel of QRF 2, an opportunity was provided for anyone unwilling to undertake the journey with the financial conditions highlighted to withdraw but none objected. Therefore, GAF encourages all patriotic and responsible citizens to desist from spreading baseless allegations with malicious intent to mislead the public and foment discord within the ranks and files of the military.

“GAF high command is always committed to the welfare and financial needs of troops under command…”

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