The role of modern day armed and security services goes far beyond combat activities, contrary to how we, in this part of the world, tend to perceive it.
Understandably, this general misconception owes its root to the prevailing destabilising situation in the African continent, as has been the case throughout the post-independence era. However, the army, like any other institution, is supposed to be as instrumental in nation building as all the other sectors of society. This means that it is just as important to have the men and women in the forces as equipped in terms of expertise, as it is among the civilian core.
If, as it is often said, the primary role of the armed forces is to safeguard the territorial integrity of a nation, it might as well be argued that such an uphill mission goes beyond positioning men and women in guard posts around the country. It also requires trainings on rescue missions, in the field of medicine, construction, engineering, and so on. Wherever the civilian population encounters difficult times, the security apparatus of such a society would be sure to step in; this is exactly what happens in other parts of the world.
The present trend of improvement in the army is a cause for jubilation. The announcement made by the commander-in-chief of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), President Jammeh, as he decorated three officers with their new ranks, that all soldiers will be quartered in the barracks come January 2013; and the plan of the military command to establish a military school as well as recruitment and regimentation centre, are indeed efforts toenhance professionalism in GAF.
Many of the landmark scientific achievements we enjoy today are the result of researches sanctioned by military institutions; institutions that have received the required expertise they rightly needed to get where they are. This is something President Jammeh has always envisaged for the security services of this nation. Of course, the professional status of the armed forces of this country today, which has been a cause for pride for the people of this country, demonstrates how far the government has gone in changing the status quo in the army.
If further development plans raised by the Gambian leader are implemented, it will certainly further boost the performance of our men and women all the more, in terms of their already celebrated performances both nationally and internationally.