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 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
Members of the Gambian military have participated in ECOMOG, the
West African force deployed during the Liberian civil war beginning
Responsibilities for internal security and law enforcement rest
with the Gambian police / gendarme force under the Inspector General
of Police and the Ministry of Interior.
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)
| 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 failed
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,
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.