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War is a fact

Mar 19, 2010, 1:52 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Says ICRC Delegate

Pierre Vandeputte, a former Belgian army paratrooper and logistician Senior Officer now working with the International Committee of Red Cross ICRC as delegate to Armed and Security Forces for West Africa based in Dakar Senegal, has said that "war is a fact and doesn't take into consideration the legitimacy of a conflict."

Mr. Vandeputte made this remark on Wednesday at the Gambia Armed Forces Joint Officers Mess in Kotu during a one-day training of 17 senior military officers on Command Responsibility on International Humanitarian Law IHL.

In his presentation on the topic "Integration of Law of Armed Conflict" (LOAC), Mr. Vandeputte said war is prohibited except in three possible ways, namely the collective security operation, the war of national liberation and the legitimate self-defence.

The ICRC delegate said the aim of LOAC is to reconcile military needs as dictated by tactical situation and the fulfilment of the mission, while reducing as much as possible sufferings and destruction.

To this end, Mr. Vandeputte said ICRC proposed the following process: the regulations, tactical manuals, combat rules, operational procedures, to name but a few with only one goal that is looking for efficient processes during an operational engagement.

According to Mr. Vadeputte in order to be familiarised with these processes, any military officer, whether he/she is private or a staff officer must be trained to put them into practice.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Gambia Red Cross Society, Mamodou Bah said Gambia Red Cross Society is proud to be associated with the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF)-International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) accords. Mr. Bah said this fundamental partnership between GRCS and GAF is initiated to create the right platform for knowledge, expertise and experience sharing, to adequately lead and command our brave men and women in uniform. He said International Humanitarian Law in combat operations and peace-keeping missions can prove to be a challenge, especially now that conflicts are complex in nature.

Mr. Bah therefore asserted that adequate training, preparing and equipping security agents is very vital to enable us fulfil the desired goal of preventing and alleviating human sufferings during conflict and peace time.

With this demonstrated willingness, he added, committed leadership of both the government and GAF can certainly enable us do more, do better and reach even further.

Other speakers included Army Spokesperson Lt. Pierre Beyai, Wolde Gabriel Savgeron, Head of Communications at ICRC Regional Office in Dakar, while Chief of Naval Staff of Gambia Navy Commodore, Madani Senghore gave the vote of thanks.

The training which was co-ordinated by Major Buba Bojang, ICRC's focal point officer at GAF, was witnessed by the new Chief of Army Staff Brigadier-General, Sering Modou Njie.