After taking over the helm of leadership under an impasse in 2017, President Adama Barrow’s government have now launched the country’s first National Defence Policy on 9th August 2023. The Gambia has been going through a Security Sector Reforms process which has been led by a Truth, Reparation and Reconciliation process and the publication of a number of documents including the National Security Policy and much more.
Below is President Adama Barrow’s speech at the launch.
Today marks another milestone in the history of the Security Sector in The Gambia. It is a historic moment for us, as we gather here to launch the country’s first-ever Defence Policy since the attainment of Independence in 1965, which is worth celebrating.
The Defence Policy is founded on the sanctity of the country’s sovereignty, national interests, core values, and commitment to a favourable world order and regional security resilience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you may recall, in 2017, when I took over as President of this country, I made a call for an assessment of the security sector.
The purpose was to analyse the existing opportunities and challenges that have to be addressed in the country in respect of delivering accountable, transparent, professional, apolitical, and responsive security services for the people.
In response to that call, ECOWAS and the European Union supported my government to review our security sector architecture. The outcome of the exercise necessitated and resulted in the development of the Security Sector Reform Strategy, National Security Policy, National Security Strategy, and the creation of the Office of the National Security. I express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to them for their prompt response.
Considering the concerted efforts made to develop the country’s National Security Policy and Strategy, the security sector, in particular, must also be congratulated on the progress made so far. The tasks before them provided a wide contextual framework from which is derived the Defence Policy we are launching today.
This development is a clear testimony that my government takes the security sector reforms seriously on our development agenda. Our commitment to the reforms is in recognition of the fact that, without security, peace, and stability, economic growth cannot be achieved.
Ladies and gentlemen, the National Defence Policy was part of the recommendations on the security sector reform agenda, and it stemmed from the need to critically evaluate the Defence sector and outline the weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities therein.
The goal of this undertaking is to transform The Gambia Armed Forces into a highly professional, well-trained, and disciplined unit that is responsive to the needs of the country, through the effective and efficient delivery of security services under democratic oversight and conditions.
Providing Defence and Security is a complex endeavour; therefore, as a country, we cannot ignore, under-estimate or downplay our security risks.
Thus, it is crucial to determine our national priorities and adopt implementable policies consistent with them.
Preserving the integrity and sovereignty of The Gambia requires the commitment of all citizens, and not just the Armed Forces.
Whilst the defence of the country is the responsibility of the security forces, the duty to ensure that the security sector can withstand our security challenges is a matter of national responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen, I most sincerely thank the Government of the United Kingdom, through the British High Commission in The Gambia, for not only providing financial support to develop the policy document, but also providing a technical expert to guide the drafting process. In the same vein, my profound gratitude and appreciation go to the drafting team and staff of the Ministry of Defence for a job well done.
I implore the Ministry of Defence to take full responsibility for the policy implementation process and ensure that the much-anticipated outcomes of the reforms in the Defence Sector are achieved. The Government will continue to work towards enhancing and developing the capacity of the Armed Forces and promoting security awareness and patriotism among the citizens of the country.
With these remarks, I declare The Gambia National Defence Policy 2023 officially launched.
May Allah continue to bless The Gambia.