The attention of the High Command of the Gambia Armed Forces has been drawn to several media publications and reports as regards a request for Logistics and Staff Support by retired Lieutenant General Masanneh N Kinteh, who was until recently the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces. Perhaps, it should be emphasized that the request is a temporary arrangement until retired General Kinteh leaves for his new post in the People’s Republic of China as Ambassador.

The Gambia Armed Forces like many armed forces in the world accord some privileges to both serving and retired officers, soldiers and ratings in accordance with established laid down procedures. As a result of this, the Gambia Armed Forces wishes to categorically state that, contrary to what is being erroneously reported on social media, the former Chief of Defence Staff was not sacked/dismissed but rather honourably retired by His Excellency the President and Commander-In-Chief of The Gambia Armed Forces on 5 March 2020 and redeployed to the Foreign Service. In view of this, the retired General is entitled to all statutory benefits such as gratuity as well as other privileges as a Senior, Distinguished and Professional Flag Officer of the Gambia Armed Forces. Essentially therefore, granting his request is in line with his status, international best practices and military traditions in most militaries. It is prudent to state here that Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal are few countries where retired senior officers and generals are usually accorded retirement benefits such as support staff, vehicles and body guards amongst other incentives and privileges. However, in the context of the Gambia Armed Forces such privileges are not explicitly stated in the current Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS), hence the request for temporary assistance. The Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Yakuba A. Drammeh, however did not only consider and grant the request by his predecessor in view of the foregoing but also on humanitarian grounds, esprit de corps and camaraderie as a retired General Officer of the Armed Forces.

It has to be further reiterated that the issue of the former Chiefs of Defence Staff (retired Colonel Baboucar Jatta and others) are rather completely different owing to the prevailing circumstances at the time. However, if the circumstances were the same as obtains in this new political dispensation, the High Command of the Armed Forces would have accorded the former Chiefs of Defence Staff the same privileges, if not better. It is instructive to note that the circumstances during the last two decades were symptomatic of an unfortunate and regrettable state of affairs beyond the control of the Armed Forces.

It may be gratifying to state that The Gambia has changed forever and so also is the Gambia Armed Forces. It might be instructive to note that the Gambia Armed Forces in line with her reforms have formulated policies to make it a vibrant and relevant defence instrument to the admiration of all Gambians and non-Gambians alike. The Terms and Conditions of Service, for example, have been reviewed as part of these reforms and it is envisaged that this important policy document when validated, would deal with, among other issues, the welfare and working conditions of both serving and retired members of the Gambia Armed Forces.

Furthermore, on the application form entitled “Application For One Year Leave Of Absence Without Salary” by Lieutenant Colonel Bahoreh Jaiteh of the Gambia Armed Forces, it has to be emphasized that the request, which has been approved, is in line with the General Orders as well as the TACOS. It might be prudent to refer to the relevant provisions as contained in the General Orders as appropriate. It is therefore the considered view that the Gambia Armed Forces had adequately acted within the confines of the established administrative procedures in this matter.

Once again, it has to be made categorically clear that the decision by the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Yakuba A Drammeh to approve the request by his predecessor was taken in good faith and in line with best practices in most militaries all over the world. Nevertheless, we wish to recognize the amount of healthy and constructive debate the matter had generated on several media platforms both within and outside The Gambia. This shows that The Gambian people have taken ownership of their Armed Forces; The Gambia Armed Forces, on the other hand also welcomes constructive and healthy criticism. Accordingly, the Gambia Armed Forces would go all out to ensure that it lives up to its constitutional mandate and other assigned roles to the expectations of her citizenry.

The Chief of Defence wishes to assure all and sundry that Gambia Armed Forces would work assiduously to ensure that, among other issues, the necessary policy documents relevant to the reform of this noble institution are finalized to forestall future occurrences of this nature. Therefore, as genuine and faithful people we must not allow emotions and sentiments to override conscience and good judgment. While the Gambia Armed Forces thanks everyone for their genuine and constructive contributions, please be assured of the highest considerations of the Chief of Defence Staff at all time.

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