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GAF Graduates 52 Soldiers

The 52 graduates and trainers of the Support Weapons Cadre & Sniper Courses

By Landing Ceesay

The Gambia Armed Forces have on Wednesday trained 52 soldiers in support weapons and sniper courses.

The graduates are all from the State Guards Battalion and the two courses were conducted simultaneously from the 20th of June to the 15 of July 2022.

Brigadier General Turo Jawneh, Commandant of the National Republican Guards said the graduation of the soldiers is significant to them and the State Guards Battalion in particular, charged with the responsibility to provide the right robust security for the seat of power.

The Brigadier General said the training is in line with the CDS training directive and is with his vision to have the Armed Forces put on a better footing to be able to fulfil its Constitutional mandate of protecting and preserving the territorial integrity of The Gambia.

“The Military’s mission remains the same but the environment in which it operates as a force is gradually changing as new security challenges emerge. One way of confronting these challenges as a force is the ability to adapt our weapon training strategies to meet the complex and changing operational environments. It is against this backdrop that the Armed Forces Command deemed it fitting and proper that its weapon training strategies need revision hence this training.

“As fine men and women of the Armed Forces, I want to reiterate once again that your weapons represent your pen and paper and therefore you must be conversant with their operations as there is no room for making mistakes while using them. During combat and other operations, you will be relied upon to be tactically and technically proficient in these weapon systems. It is therefore imperative that you are often trained on them to perfect your skill in their handling and usage. It is in this regard that the military high command will continue to devote considerable effort and resources to weapon training,” Brigadier General Jawneh said.

For his part, Lt. Col. Ousman Bah, Operations Commander at State Guards Battalion said there is a general consensus that training is the mainstay of any organisation, which the Army is not an exception. 

He said the State Guards in its training need Assessment identified some gaps within the unit.

Lt. Col. Ousman Bah further stated that as a result, various training programmes were designed to fill the capacity gaps identified within the unit.

“Notable amongst these programmes were: Training of Trainers (ToT) on small weapons, mortar course, support weapons course, VIP training course, sniper course just to name a few. It is gratifying to mention that most of the courses were successfully conducted in partnership with the Gambia Armed Forces Training School during the period under review. The overall goals and objectives of the programmes were to enhance the capacity of personnel, build their confidence to effectively carry out their mandates and other assigned roles at the Presidency and also fill those capacity gaps within the unit.

“Furthermore, the desired effects of all the training endeavours so far conducted will not only benefit the personnel that were trained in various areas but as well contribute immensely to the wider Security Sector Reform (SSR) agenda of our beloved country. The relevance of small unit training within the Armed Forces can never be measured as it helps in professionalizing a unit in all its tactics, techniques and procedures at various levels,” he said.

Lt. Col. Ousman Bah said the State Guards would not relent in its efforts to ensure the training packages are designed and implemented for its personnel to enhance their capability at all times.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Abdoulie Bah, Commandant of Gambia Armed Forces Training School said the training of State Guards Personnel on the effective employment of all weapon systems in their inventory is very timely and the importance cannot be over-emphasized judging by the magnitude and importance of their roles and responsibilities.

Lt. Col. Abdoulie Bah also said the ability of soldiers to engage the enemy effectively is fundamental to the operational success of the Armed Forces. 

He said as a result, the State Guards in collaboration with the Gambia Armed Forces Training School devote considerable effort and resources to weapon training.

Lt. Col. Abdoulie Bah further stated that the training is designed to overcome the current challenge in modernizing and adapting weapon training strategies to meet complex operational environments requirement and changing unit readiness processes.

“Snipers fulfil a vital and enduring role on the battlefield, in terms of harassing fire, intelligence gathering, target identification and eliminating high-value targets such as critical enemy assets, personnel and infrastructure.The Draganov Sniper Rifle is a large calibre weapon which provides state-of-the-art telescopic sights, thus increasing a sniper’s effective range considerably. The 40mm Grenade Machine Gun (GMG) popularly called the Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) provides unravelled infantry suppression combining the best characteristics of the heavy machine guns or light martars usually employed in this role,” he said. 

The graduation ceremony took place earlier on Wednesday at the Gambia Armed Forces Training School in Fajara. 

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