The Gambian National Army numbers about 2,500. A new batch of 620 recruits have recently joined. Recruits receive training from the Turkish-Gambian Training Team.
The army consists of infantry battalions, the national guard, and the navy, all under the authority of the Department of State for Defence (a ministerial portfolio held by President Yahya Jammeh). Prior to the 1994 coup, the Gambian army received technical assistance and training from the United States, People's Republic of China, Nigeria, and Turkey. With the withdrawal of most of this aid, the army has received renewed assistance from Turkey, Pakistan and Taiwan and new assistance from Libya and others. Pakistan sent an 18-month advisory team (the Pakistan Armed Forces Advisory Mission, or PAFAM) composed of 1 brigadier, 1 naval captain and 1 group captain from the PAF.
Members of the Gambian armed forces have participated in ECOMOG, the West African force deployed during the Liberian civil war beginning in 1990. Responsibilities for internal security and law enforcement rest with the Gambian police/gendarmerie force under the inspector general of police and the Ministry of the Interior.
All branches are jointly governed by a chief of defence staff, Lieutenant General Massaneh Kinteh, who succeeded Lieutenant General Lang Tombong Tamba who is currently on death row for involvement in a 2009 coup plot.
The Gambian Police Force (GPF) numbers about 1,000 police officers and 300 gendarmarie officers (these are usually found policing border controls). The GPF and Gambian Gendarmarie (GG) are both part of the armed forces of the Gambia.
All police/gendarmerie recruits are trained at the Gambian Forces Police Academy located in Banjul. The academy located 5 miles from Banjul is presently (2012), commanded by Brigadier General Lamin Olefah. The academy has 4 intakes of recruits every year (January, April, July and November). In 2011 the Gambian government decided to employ foreign police officers to provide specialist training. The foreign police contingent is directed by Colonel Neil Clark, a retired British police chief inspector who acts under direct warrant of the President. Since 2011 the GPF has also received training directly from the Turkish government. It is believed this special police program is funded by the United Nations. The Gambian government has stated the purpose of these overseas programs is to promote public confidence in the GPF. Recent media reports in the country report that the police urgently require more police vehicles. The government is currently discussing this lack of transport issue with the British High Commission who have put forward a strategic plan to improve the situation. The GAF Police Academy has a specialist Detective Training School (Major Steve Burris) where experienced police officers are sent to learn the basic of criminal investigation and intelligence gathering/collation. There is also a new GPF Firearms Training School where recruits learn basic weapon handling skills and experienced officers learn advanced weapon handling skills. All firearms courses are conducted by foreign police officers as is the detective school.
The Gambian government has in the past 5 years made advances to stop police officers abusing their authority and cut down on corruption. The foreign police contingent at the Gambian Forces Police Academy has made huge advances in this respect and continues to take appropriate action to further improve this problem. To date at least 16 senior GPF officers have been removed from their positions and prosecuted. Colonel Lamin Adjemeh is currently serving a 12 year prison sentence for corruption at the highest level. At least 22 middle managers (captains) have also been arrested and are on parole waiting for a court date. On June 25, 2013 Colonel Neil Clark was awarded the Order of the Gambia (OG) by the President for services to the GPF over an extended period of 8 years.
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Strength has been estimated at about ~1,600. The Gambia National Army (GNA) has been an infantry force of two battalions, together with an engineering squadron and logistics, signals and intelligence units, plus the presidential guard company. The latter has upgraded its equipment to provide greater firepower and mobility. It now has several armoured cars (two of which are based at State House) and heavier calibre vehicle-mounted weapons. It is not clear to which branches of the Gambian Armed Forces (GAF) new recruits are deployed. An amendment to the Gambia Armed Forces Bill in April 2008 included the creation of three new special units to expand the GAF: the republican guards, the national guards and special forces. There is also an HIV/AIDS prevention programme unit within the GAF.
It should be noted that the numbers in these units are small. The presidential guard company is probably a large platoon of about 50 and the infantry companies almost certainly number less than 100 personnel each armed with light weapons. Army service is voluntary.
- National Military Police
- National Guard
- Gambian Navy (~250); 4 Hai Ou-class fast attack craft, 2 hovercraft and several small vessels, berthed at GNS Jammeh naval base.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the Gambia has contributed troops to a number of peacekeeping operations:
- Since 1997, the Gambia has sent peacekeeping forces to the following places: Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Timor Leste, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, Burundi, Darfur, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Chad.
- The Gambia has contributed over 200 troops per year to African Union missions from 2005 to 2007.
- The Gambia contributed to an ECOWAS mission in 2003, sending over 150 troops.
- President Jammeh also contributed over 100 troops to UN missions in 2003 and 2004 (over 100 troops each year), and over 200 troops from 2008 to 2010.
Military manpower - availability
- Available for military service, males age 16-49: 423,306. Females age 16-49: 438,641 (2010 estimate)
- Fit for military service, males age 16-49: 315,176. Females age 16-49: 347,017 (2010 estimate)
- $1 million (FY96/97)
- 2% of GDP (FY96/97)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military of the Gambia.|
- Jane's World Armies, 2011
- “The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute”
- World Air Forces 2013. Sutton, Surrey: Flightglobal Insight. 2012. p. 15.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".
- Ravi Rikhye, Gambia, Orbat.com, 2002
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