The Honorable Sheikh Omar Faye, Minister of Defence of the Republic of The Gambia paid an official visit to the United States from 26th to 30th July 2021 and held discussions with relevant US authorities on ways and means of deepening the scope of the security cooperation between our two countries. Minister Faye was accompanied to all his meetings by His Excellency Dawda Fadera, Ambassador of The Gambia to the United States of America.
Minister Faye met with Mrs. Chidi Blyden, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for African Affairs at the Pentagon on Tuesday July 27th 2021. They exchanged views on a range of issues including the capacity building of the Gambian Armed Forces and the security situation in the Sahel.
Minister Faye also briefed DASD Blyden on the ongoing comprehensive Security Sector Reform process in The Gambia, which has been inclusive, participatory and holistic to better address the security needs of all Gambians. Minister Faye emphasized The Gambia’s willingness to continue to effectively participate in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions to promote international peace and security.
DASD Blyden commended The Gambia for achieving so much in a short period of time. She also applauded The Gambian peacekeepers for maintaining an unblemished record in their operations as blue helmets under the United Nations.
At the end of his meeting, Minister Faye was given a tour of the Pentagon, which is the Headquarters of the US Department of Defence and one of the world’s largest office buildings.
Before his Pentagon meeting Minister Faye who is also accompanied by his Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ndey Marie Njie and his Liaison Officer, Major Basiru Sarr visited the Washington based Center for Strategic and International Studies where he held discussions with the Director for Africa, Mr. Judd Devermont. The discussions centered on the capacity building of the staff of the Ministry of Defence, the ongoing Security Sector Reform, the evolving security situation in the Sahel and collaboration in the enhancement of National and regional security networks.
Minister Faye and his delegation also met with Mr. Stanley Brown, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US State Department. The discussions focused on Peacekeeping and the possibly for The Gambia to be a member of the Global Peace Operations Initiative. Minister Faye and PDAS Brown agreed for discussions on this matter to continue through diplomatic channels.
Minister Faye also held a telephone conversation with Her Excellency Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.
They exchanged pleasantries and conversed on the importance and relevance of the United Nations in maintaining global peace and order. They agreed to work closely together to address security challenges in the Sahel region.
After his engagements in Washington DC Minister Faye and his delegation visited the prestigious West Point Military Academy In New York where the Minister held talks with the Chief of Staff of the West Point Military Academy, Colonel Mark Weathers. During his visit to West Point, the Minister met with Cadet Cobna Manneh, who is the first ever Gambian to gain admission to this internationally recognized and well respected institution. The Minister encouraged the Cadet to work hard in order to obtain good results and to return to The Gambia at the end of his training to contribute to the work of the military in The Gambia.
Minister Faye was also given a tour of the West Point Military Academy, which is the oldest continuously operated Army Post in the United States.
Prior to his departure, Minister Faye and Ambassador Fadera, will visit the US Capitol Hill to discuss with American legislators on matters of mutual concern. In particular, he will meet members of the US committee on Armed Forces. Minister Faye will strongly advocate for the strengthening of US collaboration with the The Gambia in the fields of security, information sharing and capacity building.
He will also brief members of the Armed Forces Committee on the status of The Gambia’s Security Sector Reform, the general security situation in The Gambia and the overall program of the Government of The Gambia in building a viable security architecture that will ensure the wellbeing of the people and protect the sovereignty of the country.
Commenting on his visit, Minister Faye described his engagements with the US authorities as fruitful and rewarding. He noted that all his meetings were with high officials in strategic US institutions and expressed the hope that his encounters have created a better understanding of the Gambian situation and will facilitate deeper and more vigorous collaboration between military establishments in The Gambia and the United States.
It is instructive to state that, currently there are 6 members of the Gambia Armed Forces pursuing various courses in the United States Military Training Institutions. One is pursuing Senior Staff and Command course, one doing Intelligence course, 2 in the Naval Academy, 1 in the Army Academy and 1 in the Air Force Academy.