196 GAF members ready for Darfur

Friday, December 1, 2006
At last 196 members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), the fourth Gambian contingent of military peacekeepers to the troubled region of Darfur, Sudan were yesterday bade farewell at a ceremony held at the Fajara Military Barracks.

The 196 Gambian gallant men and women military contingent comprising 6 officers and 190 personnel of other ranks is the fourth Gambian contingent to Sudan who will be joining and operating along side other dedicated fellow peacekeepers from different parts of the African continent, in support of the African Union’s peace initiative and relief Gamcoy three.

Biding farewell to the officers, Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice-President and Secretary of State for Women Affairs, who is also the Chairperson of the Armed Forces Council, on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh, the Commander of the Armed Forces expressed delight over the outstanding performance in peace keeping missions which The Gambia Armed Forces have come to be associated with over the years since August 1990 when the first company of peace keepers was deployed in war-torn Liberia. She said the performance of the company in Liberia was quite outstanding and to date, GAF continues to perform the noble task of providing officers and men to build a foundation for a lasting peace and stability whenever they are needed.

“This formidable level of gallantry has indeed endeared the GAF to the United Nations which I am proud of you all. This last moment in your preparations will certainly prove to be the most exciting moments in your lives. The excitement will however be tempered by the fact that you are being deployed to go out and offer assistance to people in desperate circumstances who have been deprived of their freedom to do the things that are necessary for survival as human beings.
Your participation in the AU’s peace keeping and humanitarian assistance operations put you in a very special and honourable position. Courageous services to ones nation is what every officer and soldier look forward to and I have no doubt that you will go forth with zeal and pride,” she said.

The Armed Force Council Chairperson then described the humanitarian support operations, such as the AU’s mission in Darfur as one among that the African continent has put forth in its bid to promote peace and security without which, the continent is doomed to fail in realizing much yearned social and economic well-being of its people.

She then stated that the GAF contingent’s participation is in fulfillment of her government’s obligation in the contribution of troops in support of the AU’s peace support operations in Darfur, Sudan.

Vice-President Njie-Saidy then challenged the officers that a lot is expected of them as they operate under conditions that continue to be undesirable. She also challenged them as professionals and well-trained officers and soldiers to proof their worth and put their acquired skills to the test in aid of people who are in distress. “ Be confident and prove to the people you’re dealing with that The Gambia Armed Forces is an element to be reckoned with. You are bound to experience cultural shock as you will be operating alongside other people of different languages and culture. But, however, you must not despair” she advised.

Madam Njie Saidy then revealed The Gambia government’s commitment to meeting its obligations to sub-regional treaties and AU’s protocol for the maintenance of peace and security.

Lang Tombong Tamba, Chief of Defence Staff in his remarks reported that the Gambia Armed Forces has been successful in all the peace keeping and peace support operations that they embarked on. He said the officers (men and women) have excelled and decorated with medals for their diligence and commitment to duties and high level of professionalism.

“This is not a surprise to Gambians because we all know the secret behind the success of the GAF. It is all because of President Jammeh, Commander of the GAF. President Jammeh recognises the crucial role that Armed Forces the world over play in ensuring peace and stability in every country. Therefore, being an action-oriented leader, President Jammeh has incorporated into The Gambia’s Defence Policy, the vision of establishing a highly motivated, well-trained and professional Armed Forces fully equipped to fulfil its national and international obligations” he said.

To the troops of Gamcoy 4 for Sudan, CDS Tamba expressed no doubt on their capabilities and advised them ton sustained the good record of the Gambia Armed Forces and also to keep the Gambian flag higher. “Your duty is to do everything possible within your limits to restore, keep and support the peace in Darfur. Work within the mandate of the AU mission, maintain the rule of law and respect the rights of the Sudanese people and other nationals you work with. Behave professionally and avoid doing anything that will stain the reputation of The Gambia. Consider the people of Sudan as your brothers and respect their religion, traditions and culture. Treat them fairly without prejudice and endeavour to win the hearts and minds of the people. From the same contingent from The Gambia, you must maintain a positive and good rapport, cohesion and spirit-de-corp among yourselves. Be each others brothers and sisters keeper throughout the duration of the mission, be good ambassadors of The Gambia” he advised troops.

Col Tamba then, on behalf of the officers men and women of the GAF thanked President Jammeh and his government for all the commitment and support given to the Armed Forces.

It could be recalled that the history of peace keeping for the Gambia Armed Forces began in 1990 with the deployment of troops to Liberia under ECOMOG, then troops to Guinea Bissau in 1999 and Liberia for the second time in 2003 under the auspices of the United Nations, and in December 2005, the first Gambian peace keepers contingent was deployed to Darfur in Sudan under the AU.
Author: Written by Alhagie Jobe & Ebrima Jaw Manneh
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper
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