Roles of GAF Peacekeeping Operation
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the Gambian Armed Forces was recently established and tasked with the responsibilities of coordinating, preparing for deployment and management of all matters relating to troops’ participation in peacekeeping operations across the world.
History of GAF Peacekeeping Operation
The GAF first deployments came in 1990 and 1999 when it participated in ECOWAS peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Guinea Bissau respectively. The previous governments initiated the deployments of company strength (about 150 personnel) for the first time in Liberia and embedded in the Nigerian Contingent and in later in Guinea Bissau with the same number.
Later, as part of the ECOWAS initiative deployed an infantry company (150 personnel) to Liberia once again in 2003 following the civil war under the ECOMIL which later transited into UNMIL. In 2004, GAF sent a contingent of 150 troops excluding military observers and staff officers to Sudan, Darfur under the AU and later UN mandates.
GAF also sent military observers to several countries including, Nepal, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Republic of Chad, Central Africa Republic, Somalia, Angola, Mali and Sudan. Since then, the GAF has been involved in more than Ten (10) different UNPKO’s around the globe and contribute more than 4,000 personnel in those missions. The Gambia has always been commended for its troop’s commitment, professionalism and discipline.
Professionalism in Accomplishing Peacekeeping Mandate
Despite the numerous allegations of misconduct against many military peacekeeping contingents, the GAF has performed its global mandate professionally and had never been accused of any form of misconduct. This to some extent indicates the GAF’s level of professionalism, discipline and training received including induction and/or pre-deployment trainings for our troops prior to any deployment. As of October 2004, GAF maintained consistent contribution of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations particularly in Darfur, Sudan and the 20th Contingent is currently serving UNAMID.
This Contingent is serving as a Force Headquarters Company. The Company’s responsibilities include; provision of drivers, Signalers, Flight Followers, clerks, VIP Guard and Escorts, Protection of key installations amongst others.
In order to enhance their already achieved skills and competency in peacekeeping, GAF with the support of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Training Assistant Team continue to conduct various PSO trainings for all our contingents. Such trainings usually take place before any potential deployment in any part of the world. The Gambia as a nation has always been very committed in international peace and security which to a great deal enhances international cooperation and military experiences. One argument is that, GAF is able to improve its international reputation and which enables the country to claim global recognition in the field of peacekeeping. Thus, Gambia wins both national pride and diplomatic recognition, including better working relations with neighboring countries such as Senegal and other regional neighbors. In spite of our size, another argument posits that GAF could be able to share its military professional experience abroad.
Ongoing Peacekeeping Missions
Even though the Gambia has a very small Armed Force, it continued to contribute to various UN peacekeeping operations, since its first deployment to Liberia in 1990. For a country with a population of less than 2 million, such contributions remain very significant.The performance of GAF contingents have been described as being of the highest order and the recognition to serve in UN peacekeeping missions may be seen as further recognition of our military’s growing esteem in the field of peacekeeping.
Presently GAF has deployed a company of Two Hundred and Eight (208) personnel in Darfur, UNAMID where Gambia has maintained a consistent deployment since 2004. Equally, quite a good number of Officers were deployed as either Staff Officers or Military Observers in more than Ten (10) Peacekeeping missions. Already, the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff of the GAF made a pledge to prepare and maintain Rapid Deployment Level (RDL) as part of our commitment to contributing to global peace and stability motivated by the assertions that Peace in world; Peace at Home.