The conditions of service of Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) service personnel have been stipulated in the Terms and Conditions of Service Regulation, (TACOS) produced under the Gambia Armed Forces Act 1984, (GAFA). This regulation was spearheaded by the Nigerian Armed Forces Training Team, (NATAG) to promote the welfare of soldiers and officers of the armed forces of The Gambia. Initially, this benefitted the army and navy, leaving the Gendarmeries, which was the third arm, very unmotivated.

Even though TACOS gave the officers and soldiers rent and transport allowance, it is, however, a known practice that many of the senior officers of our armed forces do receive the allowance whilst they continued to reside in the barracks. To make matters worse, some junior soldiers were being forced to share army accommodation, whilst both of those soldiers were being deducted the full rent each. This unfair treatment may still exist today. It is also a well-known fact that Jammeh, whilst trying to entice our armed forces into unconditional loyalty, has often given senior officers military vehicles, and in some cases, additional utility vehicles, drivers and fuel coupons, for running errands for the family including the extended family at taxpayers expense, without any legal basis. T

This practice results in these officers seeing these unfair privileges and unnecessary burden on our resources as entitlements even though these entitlements are not present in any regulation. This is in line with the behaviour of our senior officers who do not see obeying the laws, even the GAFA, in cases such as when it related to promotions, are the reasons we cannot still have security reforms of our armed forces. Otherwise, they just have to implement the law on promotions, in GAFA, 1984, such as s.18, which requires a board for commissions and promotions and TACOS for the length of service and procedures, including exams, and whoever did not go through that procedure, should be reverted to the original or deserving rank. It is this simple, however, the will to enforce our laws is lacking due to these unfair privileges and the way even those trusted to enforce these laws, were promoted. 

Due to this conflict of interest, any government serious about reforms will have to put pressure on these senior officers to allow former officers and soldiers of our armed forces interested in helping, room to come back and help, especially those who pursue post-graduate degrees in modern security and safety practice and policies. These former officer, many of who were forced to leave during the dictatorship are often ready to serve even for a period, to help enforce the much needed and overdue security reforms. This same invitation should be extended to Gambians who served or serving in other countries, mainly US and UK to come back and give back to their nation Both these groups are better off where they maybe but often out of patriotism and the need to do this all-important task, is motivation enough. Otherwise, we will not be ready when ECOMIG leaves and their presence is not sustainable. 

Kejau Touray