Chief of Defence Staff


Lieutenant General Mamat OA Cham is the ninth Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF). He is the professional head of the Armed Forces responsible for its administrative and operational control. The seasoned and career General Officer rose through the ladder of the officer corps and held several key positions in the Army both home and overseas. He is a native of Kerr Mbougouma Village in the North Bank Region of The Gambia. 

General Mamat Cham sat to and passed the West African Examinations Council’s General Certificate in Education-Ordinary and Advanced Level in 1980 and 1983 respectively. Thereafter, he joined the then – Gambia National Army (GNA) in 1984 as part of the nucleus of the GNA which later morphed into GAF. During his early military career, the General Officer attended several military courses in Nigeria, Pakistan and the United States of America. Some of the notable military courses, amongst others are Infantry Officers Basic Course at the Manoeuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia in 1985. In 1986, the General Officer attended the Airborne Course at the same venue in addition to a Civil Affairs and Instructors Course at the JFK Special Warfare Centre, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA. Furthermore, the General Officer was sent to Quetta Pakistan in 1991 to pursue the Company Commanders’ Course which he successfully completed with merit. In 1993, General Mamat OA Cham attended the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Nigeria where he completed the Command and Staff Course, among many other allied students from the continent. The General Officer holds a Diploma in Information, Communication and Technology from Lasting Solutions Institute in The Gambia in 2015. The pursuit of knowledge and excellence saw the seasoned career Officer enroll at the University of The Gambia where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics and Management in 2017. Additionally, he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Laws degree at the UTG for which he is in his third year and looking forward to graduating as a Lawyer in his own right.

In the course of his military career the General Officer gained steady promotions and did courses commensurate to his rank and appointment. As a young Infantry Officer under the GNA and later as a General Officer under GAF, General Cham held several Command and Staff appointments at the levels of the Services and Defence Headquarters.  Some of the notable appointments that he held as a young Officer in the GNA were Platoon Commander Confederal Battalion from July 1986 to June 1988; Company Commander/ Second-in-Command of Alfa Company in 1988. The General Officer, in 1989, was appointed as the Company Commander of Bravo Company and later elevated to the position of Adjutant of 1 Infantry Battalion, GNA, Yundum Barracks from 1989 to 1990.  General Mamat O Cham was deployed to Liberia from 1991 to 1992 when he was appointed as Contingent Commander of the Gambian Contingent under the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group’s (ECOMOG) Peace Enforcement mandate. He also served as Contingent Commander when the ECOMOG mission changed to the United Nations Mission in Liberia. He equally served under the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone as staff officer in 2000.

General Mamat Cham, together with some former officers of the GNA had their careers in the military unfortunately interrupted by the then political dispensation and the General Officer went into private and academic life. However, and owing to his wealth of experience and vast knowledge in development sphere, he was recalled by His Excellency the President and Command-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr. Adama Barrow in 2017 and appointed Commander of the GNA. He was tasked to lead the reform and transformation of the GNA as part of the overall Security Sector Reform of the Armed and Security Services, including GAF. He was later elevated and appointed as the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, a portfolio he held with consummate professionalism and dedication. He was at the heart of the tremendous achievements registered by GAF in the domain of Civil-Military Relations which was at the centre of the reforms and transformation of GAF. General Cham was appointed Chief of Defence Staff of GAF on 29 September 2023 by the President and C-in-C in accordance to Section 190, sub-section (1a) of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.

General Cham is a proud recipient of several prestigious awards and decorations for his meritorious and dedicated service to his nation and the international community. Some of his notable awards are the ECOWAS (ECOMOG) Peace Enforcement in Liberia medal (2000), United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone medal (2005), United Nations Mission in Liberia medal, the Gambia Armed Forces Distinguished Service medal and the Gambia Armed Forces Personal Sacrifice Medal in 2019.

The General is fluent in English Language with some basic and elementary French. He also speaks the local languages such as Wolof and Mandinka. His interests include reading, sports, farming, travelling and networking with friends and family. He is happily married to Amie Secka Cham and the union is blessed with 2 girls and 3 boys.