The army of Gambia is
made up of infantry battalions in the Gambia National Guard
(GNG), Gambia National Army (GNA) and the navy which are under
the Department of State for Defence, Banjul. There is no conscription
in the Gambia and the age for voluntary enrolment for men
and women is 18 years of age.
Initially recruits are enrolled for a specified minimum period,
in which they undergo training of between 4 to 6 months, thereafter
they may choose to sign-up for another specified time period.
The army has around 1,900 soldiers which consists of infantry
battalions, the national guard, and the navy, who are all
under the authority of the Department of State for Defence
(a ministerial portfolio held by President Jammeh). Prior
to the 1994 coup, the Gambian army received technical assistance
and training from the US, UK, China, Turkey and Nigeria. The
army has received renewed assistance from Turkey and new assistance
from Libya and others.
Members of the Gambian military 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 / gendarme force under the Inspector
General of Police and the Ministry
The main aims of the armed forces as written in the constitution
are to defend and preserve the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of The Gambia, to aid civil authorities during emergencies
and national disasters; to engage in productive activities
such as agriculture, engineering, health and education for
the development of The Gambia.
The development of The Gambia Armed Forces and the expansion
of its primary and principal functions came about as a result
of the 1994 change of government.
The 1997 Constitution gives The Gambia Armed Forces additional
mandates in the light of the changing phenomena in the traditional
roles of the Armed Forces. These additional mandates have
allowed the expansion of the role of The Gambia Armed Forces
such as Rescue Missions, Emergency and Disaster Operations,
and International Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement Missions
as well as agricultural participation. The Gambia Armed Forces
as part of its new and additional roles has been actively
participating in the fight against HIV.
The Gambia Armed Forces has established a close collaboration
with the National Aids Secretariat (NAS), the Medical Research
Council and other health care delivery agencies in its endeavour
to fight against HIV/Aids and other infectious diseases. This
has led to the creation of a special office, which is equipped
and staffed for that purpose. The primary function of this
office is to effectively sensitize the officers and soldiers,
their dependants, the civilian staff and all other members
of The Gambia Armed Forces about the menace of HIV/Aids.
In its move to maintain the welfare of its serving members,
The Gambia Armed Forces has endeavoured to renovate all existing
accommodations in all its barracks. New accommodation structures
have already been built at Yundum Barracks and improvement
on these structures had been undertaken. New accommodation
structures have also been built in Basse. Renovation works
in Farafenni and Kudang Barracks have been completed. The
renovation work at Fajara Barracks is now completed. All these
have been done to improve on the living conditions of the
officers and soldiers as well as their dependants. Also, a
new Armed Forces Headquarters have been created for effective
command and control and for the improvement of the working
conditions of the staff officers.
of GDP (2016)
The Gambia was eligible in the US fiscal
year 2007 to receive Excess Defense Articles
(EDA) on a grant basis under Section 516
of the Foreign Assistance Act. Provision
of grant EDA may be used to support The
Gambia’s participation in peacekeeping
operations. In fiscal year 2005, the Department
of State authorised the export of defense
articles and services valued at $100,000
Before 1961 there was the Royal West African Frontier
Force (RWAFF) formed in 1900 by the British colonial
government of which The Gambia had a section, called
the Gambia Company.
This was later changed to the Gambia Auxiliary Force
and subsequently the Field Force. The Gambia Field
Force was established in 1961, three years before
The Field Force was disbanded in 1981, following
the failed coup of that year. A new law was passed
in 1984 called the Armed Act which established the
armed forces, consisting of Gambia Army and the
Gendarmerie, with the British Army Training Team
(BATT) and the Senegalese Gendarmerie training the
two arms of the service, respectively.
The GNA existed alongside the Gendarmerie, until
1994 when the two institutions were merged under
one command structure.
In addition to the merger, further re-organisation
and restructuring of the GNA was undertaken in 1986
which resulted in its expansion, and the establishment
of the three services under the Gambia Armed Forces:
the National Army, Guard and Navy.
Each of these military services is overseen by a
Commander, with the Chief-of-Defense-Staff and Chief-of-Staff
at the top under the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief.