Dec 23, 2013, 9:28 AM
In a statement read on his behalf, President Jammeh congratulated the new soldiers for their interest in the army, and for successfully going through months of intensive training.
He welcomed the new intake into a career described as noble and extremely rewarding.
“The reward lies mainly in the honour, pride and satisfaction associated with the sacrifice and selfless service that you would be rendering in defence of the country, the dignity, lives of the people, and their properties,” he said.
He added: “I would also like to extend profound gratitude to all parents, relatives and guardians for demonstrating belief in the nobility of the armed forces by accepting to let you enlist in the first place, and becoming the proud soldiers you are today.”
President Jammeh thanked the Turkish military adviser to The Gambia, as well as officers of the Gambia armed forces training school for their hard work and competence.
Out of 720 new graduates, 123 were females including a qualified UTG-trained medical doctor, and two state registered nurses.
"As I always say, it is no longer business as usual in the army, and a lot of changes are taking place so as to improve upon the professionalism of the Gambia armed forces,” he said.
He added: “I am confident that the exposure of the recruits to the new programs and modules in the areas of peacekeeping, conflict prevention, negotiation and mediation, safety procedures and other specializations will greatly enhance their training.”
The Gambian leader said his government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the gallant men and women of the armed forces have the necessary support needed to enhance their efficiency.
He promised that the government will continue the projects already started to provide decent housing and other facilities, to make their stay in the army enjoyable, and the government will also give maximum attention to their professional and educational training opportunities.
“Promotion will be based on merit not seniority, and for my government the sky is the limit, and let me re-echo the importance of discipline, hard work, respect and devotion to duty that are the core pre-requisites to define a good, brave and trusted soldier,” he said.
Lt.Gen. Massaneh Kinteh, the chief of defence staff, said the new soldiers were trained in two batches; the first batch starting on 9th August 2011 after selections and finishing on 25th November, while the second batch started in December 2011 and completed training on 24th March 2012.
“These young men and women before us today having completed their training will be posted to our various military services namely, the Army, Navy and Republican National Guards and we owe this gratitude to the magnanimity of president Jammeh commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Kinteh said.
He advised them to be always disciplined, and dedicated to duty.
“Always remember that the military is subordinate to the civil authority, and we have sworn to be loyal to our commander-in-chief, the government and people of The Gambia, and always remember that the foundation upon which any strong military is built is based on loyalty, dedication, patriotism, tolerance and obedience to lawful commands”.
CDF Kinteh urged the new soldiers to be strictly guided by the GAF Act, the terms and conditions of service and other service regulations in place, adding that as soldiers they should treat other service institutions as partners in development.
Other speakers included the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Harry Sambou, who urged the soldiers to always serve as good ambassadors of the GAF.
As part of the ceremony, eleven soldiers were awarded trophies and cash amounts for excelling in their training.