A retired veteran army officer now in the diplomatic field has stated that there was never a time when Gambians were in control of their security forces until after 1994, since the first formation of an army in the country in 1901.
He said it was the British who always commanded and controlled the armed and security forces or had to be contracted as advisers up to the time of the abortive coup in 1981. He added that it was at that point that Senegal took over the command and control until 1985 when the British in an advisory role started another Gambia Army co-founded with Senegalese-Gambian forces that ended at the termination of the confederation of the two states in 1989.
“The British continued calling the shots but couldn’t perform satisfactorily in the wake of two frightening army mutinies in 1990 and 1991, compelling the PPP government to contract Nigerian military generals, colonels, captains, lieutenants, non-commissioned officers and other ranks to take charge of the armed forces.” Samsudeen Sarr, the Gambia’s Deputy Head of Mission at the United Nations said in an opinion piece on Dr. Isatou Touray’s manifesto sent to the Daily Observer.
Samsudeen Sarr said it was thanks to the Almighty Allah, on July 22, 1994, when President Jammeh, a young lieutenant at the time commanding the army military police unit, step forward and swore to put an end to what he described as nonsense even if his life had to depend on it. Since then, according to him, Gambians in the armed and security forces have under 22 years of his wise guidance developed their own skills and knowhow of conducting their own affairs without foreign control or advice. And they have become so good at what they were doing, their professionalism and effectiveness that have ranked them high in UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.
According to him, before President Jammeh’s government, those sent abroad on foreign missions were not only underpaid, but were denied burial rights in The Gambia if killed in the line of duty. “Since he came to power, he did not only criminalise that horrible policy but ensured that all dead soldiers left in foreign land had their remains recovered and brought back to the home they belong,” he affirmed.
“So for Dr. Isatou Touray to think that she will impress the security forces by promising them better service conditions and training beyond what President Jammeh has done for them is a joke. It’s all about taking them back to the miserable existence they were subjected to in the past, which I can guarantee will never happen again. I heard her even arguing about why the APRC government had to withdraw the membership of The Gambia from the British Commonwealth without seeking the public’s approval. That left me wondering why she couldn’t first explain how the public endorsed the country’s membership to join in the first place. What a Doctor!”
To ask for our return on the basis that other member countries still in the Commonwealth were also victims of colonialism but didn’t quit, Sam Sarr said shows her temperament as a follower and not a leader. “It is gross to be a crowd follower, Doctor. As a former military officer, I was fully aware of the state of backwardness and despair President Jammeh found the armed and security forces in before the July 22nd 1994 Revolution and how he transformed the entire forces into the respectable entity it is today,” he said.
See page 12 of this publication for the rest of the article.