By Omar Bah
The Chief of Defense Staff has asked members of the Gambia Armed Forces to remain apolitical as the country heads into election next year.
Addressing soldiers in his end-of-year message, Lieutenant General Yakuba Drammeh told his men and women in uniform to endeavour to be a ‘reformed’ armed forces.
“As we gradually welcome 2021 and the country prepares for elections, I wish to remind you all of the political climate while urging you all to remain vigilant, professional and apolitical in the execution of your sacred constitutional duties. We must endeavor to be reformed armed forces that is prepared to execute its constitutional roles and at the core, subjected to democratic civilian authority and accountability. Our role, I must admit is a noble one and requires total commitment to the ideals of the Founding Fathers of this country,” he said.
Turning to the achievements and challenges faced by GAF in 2020, CDS Drammeh said the army has over the past one year achieved a lot together “in the context of our set goals despite the unprecedented and challenging impediments occasioned by, among other things, the Covid – 19 pandemic.”
“Apparently, the pandemic had and continues to pose serious challenges to the realization of some of our strategic objectives in the area of training, operations and capacity building. In order to mitigate the risks of transmissions among our personnel, GAF had to scale down its administrative, operational and training activities at the respective Service, Formation and Unit Headquarters,” he said.
On the operational front, CDS Drammeh added: “My Headquarters launched Operation ‘CRACK NUT’ following the declaration by the Commander-In-Chief of a State of Public Emergency throughout the country in March 2020.”
“Personnel of the GAF were mobilized to ensure that the risk of transmission of the COVID is reduced through vigorous patrols, contact tracing and quarantine of suspects. Additionally, the GAF equally maintained her operational tempo with a new deployment earlier in the year at Kerr Pateh village in the North Bank Region,” he said.
He said the Armed Forces has also managed to win the hearts and minds of many Gambians and non-Gambians through the conduct of outreach activities and also restored peace and security to vulnerable communities through vigorous patrols and other operations.
“All these achievements, amongst many others, would not have been registered without the resolute commitment and diligence of the gallant men and women in uniform. Your unique service to the Nation is worthy of commendation and you are urged not to relent to live up to your individual and collective responsibilities,” CDS Drammeh added.
In the domain of Peace Support Operations, he added: “A lot of progress has been made in our efforts to deploy a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in a UN mission in view of the pending closure of the Darfur mission in Sudan.”
He reserved special thanks for the president and Commander-In-Chief of the Gambia Armed Forces, Adama Barrow for his commitment to support the Armed Forces in its transformation and reform process.
“The Armed Forces wishes to reiterate its total and unflinching commitment to the reform process while appreciating the progress that has been registered so far in this domain since the appointment of a Minister of Defence,” he added.
The CDS also reserve special commendation to the sister security services and the Ecomig Forces for the collaboration and mutual support they continue to enjoy.
“Significantly, I wish to express profound gratitude to members of the general public for their immense patience, understanding and confidence exhibited towards the Armed Forces during the period under review,” he said.