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The Armed Forces on Parade

Apr 9, 2008, 6:28 AM | Article By: By Bijou Peters

We recall that before 1981 the Gambia had no army and the country was attacked. It was during the time of President Jawara who happened to be out of the country of the time. There was complete anarchy in Banjul and Bakau when so called rebels went around the streets armed with A.K. 47 guns which they were not used to handling and gunning down whoever was rioting and shamelessly looting shops. This situation had never happened in small and peaceful Gambia before and no one ever thought it could happen this mayhem continued for about five days and President Jawara appealed to Senegal for help. The Senegalese were willing and speedily dispatched soldiers who came to The Gambia via the Casamance in answer to the call for help. It was this that saved the situation they arrived by air and by road. They were shooting their way into the town because there were rebels hiding in the bushes along the route and the soldiers did not know where there may be people. Thus we were saved from the rampant shooting that went on by armed young men. It was a terrible experience and the public was absolutely mortified by fear and forebodding over the terrible things which went on during these five days. The numbers murdered were many and had to be buried in a mass grave close to the cemetry!

After this unexpected attack, the government embarked upon recruiting young men for the army and planned a military programme for them. The Senegalese remained in The Gambia for a few years and continued to assist us in the training programme. Since then the armed forces have made tremendous strides and we now have a naval force also the military have been fortunate to have training had from the Turkish, British and American forces.

Gambian soldiers have performed well that they have been chosen for peace-keeping activities in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the troublesome region of Darfer, West of Sudan.

They have served competently in all these places and have put Gambia force on a high pedestal, they are commended for their exemplary services of peace-keeping abroad.

About five to ten years ago the army decided to recruit women into the armed forces. Women have settled down well and are holding their positions with the men performing equally as well as them the public was proud and impressed with the performance of the armed forces on parade during the recent 43rdanniversary of our independence on February 18th2008. They were fantastic and displayed much passion and discipline as they marched accompanied by the police band and carrying out the formation. They were innovative and pleased the audience who reacted with loud applause they must have had regional training from their senior office. We say bravo to the armed forces generally for the skills displayed in formation marching. Hats off to the female soldiers some of whom have attained senior posts in the army and are performing as well as their male colleagues. We give credit to the officers who must have spent much time and patience with the soldiers to get them to a high standard of proficiency. We salute them and are proud of them.