The President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow on Friday 9 February 2018 met with members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) High Command in an atmosphere described by the President as a “family reunion”.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Masanneh N Kinteh accompanied by his Deputy, Major General Yakuba Drammeh, the Commanders of the Gambia National Army and Navy, Directors at the Defence Headquarters as well as Commandants and Commanding Officers of GAF were at the State House to pay a courtesy visit as well as have an audience and an interface with the President of the Republic of The Gambia and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Speaking at the historic event, President Barrow stated that the meeting was a family re-union and in a family each member has a responsibility that goes with challenges. He therefore urged members of the Gambia Armed Forces to take up their role to defend the country and remain loyal to the Gambian people and the government of the day to ensure stability.
The President went further to urge everyone to accept the verdict of the citizens as expressed at the 1st December 2016 Presidential elections and move on with the agenda to move the country forward. President Barrow buttressed his assertion with a quote that, “We won the war, let us maintain the peace and collaborate with others like ECOWAS.” He acknowledged the maturity displayed by the Gambia Armed Forces by obeying his order to stay in their barracks after his swearing-in in Senegal while emphasising the role ECOMIG continues to play in the counry.
For his part, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Massaneh N. Kinteh made a presentation of the activities, achievements and challenges of the Gambia Armed Forces during the past year. He dilated on the reforms being embarked upon to change the mindset of the average soldier to know their constitutional roles and responsibilities while giving an overview of the history of the GAF, its structures and vision. He posited that all these re-structuring activities are being undertaken to strengthen the capacity of the forces and to modernize the armed forces.
Responding to their challenges raised in the CDS presentation, the President and Commander-In-Chief stated that plans are at advanced stages to construct an Armed Forces Academy and School of Excellence to support the capacity building efforts of the Armed Forces. The President noted that governance is a process and his government would do what it could to support them. He promised the GAF High Command that as their Commander-In-Chief, he wants to leave a positive legacy which will be determined not by how long he stays in power but what he is able to achieve.
The Deputy Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Yakuba Drammeh gave the vote of thanks while the Commanders of the Gambia National Army and Navy, Brigadier General Mamat Cham and Commodore Madani Senghore respectively expressed their loyalty to the country through the President and Commander-In-Chief.
It may be pertinent to state that the Chief of Defence Staff is mandated to provide the link and be the interface between Armed Forces and the Commander-In-Chief who also doubles as the Minister of Defence.
On the one hand, this is a historic moment to have an interface with the Commander-In-Chief who embodies the collective and democratic will of the Gambian people as expressed on 1st December 2016 Presidential elections. On the other hand, it is traditional in the Military that whenever one has a new Commander, and in this case a new Commander-In-Chief, it is incumbent upon the subordinate to show unalloyed loyalty and dedication to country and people through him. It is only through unique moments and occasions like this that this can be exhibited for the record of history. And the good thing is that indeed history has recorded this unique event for posterity.