For National Security Adviser, Armed Forces Need Right-Sizing, Not Downsizing
The National Security Adviser to President Adama Barrow says as part of post-Jammeh era reforms, what the Gambia Armed Forces needs is right-sizing, not downsizing.
In August 2018, President Barrow told journalists at State House of his government’s plan to cut down the size of the armed forces, saying “we have started checking records of how people came into the army.”
The armed forces came under a lot of criticism after Jammeh left for their alleged involvement of its personnel in human rights abuses against Gambians. The recent confessions of killings and torture by the Junglers at the TRRC confirm that ex-President Jammeh used members of the armed forces to inflict pain and suffering on the Gambian people. Officials have also hinted that there were soldiers who joined the army through the ‘back way’, and were not supposed to be in the force.
“What we want to make clear is that the notion of the army and the misconception of the army generally that they should be downsized or whatever does not stand,” says Momodou Badjie, a former army colonel who took office in September 2017 as the National Security Adviser to the president. “For us at the national security advisory, what we conceive is right-sizing. When we say right-sizing the security officers it may be either increasing or decreasing the figures depending on the security situation and needs of the service personals.”
According to him, the security reform process also make the visibility of the armed forces to be clear to allow security forces to be abreast with their roles, responsibilities and mandates.
“It must also be clear to the Gambian people that not all those in the army were bad,” he tells The Chronicle.
On the Security Sector Reform (SSR), he says his office is on course and will not “relent” in its responsibility of formulating “the best security policies for the country”, saying “the prime essence of the process is to make the security apparatus answerable to civilian command and control based on democratic principles and the rule of law.”
According to him, SSR is a process that follows its own trajectories either for short, medium or long term that entails needs assessment and consultations. Badjie says this explains why his office’s first mission was to embark on a regional consultation to engage on the need assessment of all the security institutions and organizations in the country.
“If you look at the security sector reform process you will find out that it entails needs assessment and in order to know the needs of the people, you must meet them and sit with them to know their concerns. My office embarked on a nationwide consultation that took us to all the regions of the country. Some of the issues discussed were; what they think of the security situation, how they think we can improve the security situation of the country, and what are some of the issues that they think could be looked at when we are doing the reform.”
Badjie says other areas discussed during the tour included the legacy of the authoritarian rule and how security officers were employed into certain actions and activities during the Jammeh’s 22-year rule.
The report on the regional consultation and its recommendations were handed over to the president.
Badjie says consultations are on course for the formulation of the National Security Strategy that will outline the modus operandi of the security forces.
“Security Sector Reform is a process and the consultations are ongoing. It’s a process that also believes in justice and this is why it preaches adherence to the norms of the democratic values. Let us have an open mind on the process; let us argue, debate and discuss without taking sides in our quest to having the best National Security Policy,” Badgie urges.