By Yankuba Jallow
Soldiers of the Gambia Armed Force, GAF, have completed weeks of intensive Training of Trainers (ToT) Course conducted by the 4th Infantry Battalion stationed in Kanilai.
The graduation ceremony was held in Kanilai, Foni Kansala District of the West Coast Region. The day was graced by military officers, ECOMIG soldiers, the police, fire and other security outfits, civilians and many other personnel.
Speaking to reporters, Brigadier General Mamat O. Cham, indicated that the training is the most important duty of a soldier and the army in peace time; that for the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) to be able to discharged its assigned constitutional roles and mandate, they have to continuously engage in relevant and realistic training in order to build their individual and collective capacities and skills, so as to enable them acquire the competences and confidence needed in the performance of their various roles and duties in their assigned sections.
He said the Training of Trainers is just the first phase of the Commander’s continuous training cycle that will involve every active duty soldier and will focus on certain individual and collective skills including basic infantry tactics, individual weapon and support weapon skills such as Mortar, Artillery and other indirect weapons, combat support and related service support skills etc.
He said modern Armies operate complex and sophisticated equipment and such knowledge is therefore required of every soldier.
“You are encouraged to continuously endeavor to avail yourselves of all training opportunities in order to improve your shortcomings as all promotions and advancements in the Gambia Armed Forces, will now be based on competence and fairness,” he said.
He warned the soldiers to uphold the laws and moral values of the country, refrain from drugs and other negative social vices, be good citizens and be ready to serve the communities justly and with fairness and sympathy for everyone. He reminded them that their behaviors and personal conducts as members of GAF is important since they are the Ambassadors of the Army; that the image, attitude and behaviors they manifest to the people to a large extent, will determine the respect and support they will give back.
Major Wassa Camara in his speech said the training was essentially focused on refreshing the participating soldiers on weapons, drills, guardroom procedures and duties and combat among others, by the Mobile Training Team from GAFTS.
In giving the brief history of the Kanilai Camp, he said it was in 1996 when soldiers were first deployed to Kanilai, the birth place of the ex-president Yahya Jammeh, as a guard post; that this was later increased to the strength of a Battalion; that in January 2017 after the political impasse, both officers and men of the battalion were withdrawn and deployed to other battalions; that on the 2nd April 2017, the company strength was deployed to secure the suspected mass grave sites. In June the natives of Kanilai and her satellite villages demonstrated for a total rejection of the military within their jurisdiction. Camara said they (the people of Kanilai) refused to accept the presence of the Senegalese Battalion and the Gambian deployment within Kanilai and surrounding. He added that tt was based on this and other strategic and tactical importance, that GAF deployed a Battalion since 6th June 2017.
He remarked, ‘‘Operationally we function like any other unit within GAF. We have base security and two outlets at Kalagi and Kanfenda. For The Gambia Armed Forces to operate professionally, it must continuously subject personnel into rigorous training. As the saying goes “Train harder and fight easy”. Training personnel will ensure discipline, professionalism and confidence, the absence of which will undoubtedly create cracks, disgruntled and indiscipline officers and subsequently failures in engagements. It is this urgent need that the CDS has instituted the Mobile Training Team”.
Other speakers included Lamin B. Camara, the trainer and some senior military officers.