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. Prior to the 1994
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 of
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.
1.1% of GDP (2016)
| Military assistance:
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 for Gambia.
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 independence.
The Field Force was disbanded in 1981, following the
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
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.