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Gambia-Turkey Relations Celebrated as Turkish Government Donates Communication Equipment to GAF

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The Minister of Defence, Turkish Ambassador and CDS at the presentation ceremony

By Landing Ceesay

In a show of strong bilateral ties, Major General Mamat OA Cham, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and Hon. Sering Modou Njie, Minister of Defence, expressed appreciation for the enduring relationship between the Gambia and Turkey. The Turkish government, through its Embassy in the Gambia, donated cutting-edge communication equipment to the GAF, marking a significant gesture of support.

The handover ceremony took place at the GAF Headquarters in Banjul, where the Defence Minister highlighted Türkiye’s pivotal role as a strategic partner. Hon. Njie acknowledged Turkey’s consistent support across various sectors, including education, health, and defence cooperation. He emphasized Turkey’s contributions to Gambia’s development initiatives, such as scholarship programs, free healthcare, and financial assistance.

“The Republic of Turkey has continued to render valuable support to the government of The Gambia’s development initiatives. Education sector, Provision of scholarship packages, 25 students each year. Health Sector, free treatment of 25 Gambians every year. Defence Cooperation, Provision of resource allocation for procurement of Military goods and services,” Hon. Njie said. Hon. Njie outlined the extensive collaboration between the two nations, citing bilateral agreements covering areas like health, education, visa regulations, taxation, investment protection, tourism, culture, media, and youth and sports. He also underscored Turkey’s substantial financial support for military procurement and its ongoing efforts in training and capacity building for the GAF.

“Over the years, the two countries have signed numerous bilateral agreements on a broad range of areas including Cooperation in the field of Health and Medical Sciences, Education, mutual Abolition of Visas for Holders of Diplomatic Passports, avoidance of Double Taxation, reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment, Tourism, Culture, Mass Media and Youth and Sport,” Hon. Njie said. 

Hon. Njie highlighted that under the Military Financial Cooperation Agreement, the Government of Turkey is consistently supplying significant resources to The Gambia for the acquisition of military equipment, goods, and various services. Additionally, Hon. Njie emphasized that the Armed Forces of Turkey have been actively delivering substantial training and support for capacity building to enhance the capabilities of the Gambia Armed Forces.

“Most of our Senior and Junior Officers are proud alumni of prestigious Turkish Military training Institutions. Between the end of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, 500 GAF Military personnel were provided with advanced military training in general peacekeeping and military operations by the Republic of Türkiye, including transportation (airlifting them with special- -military aircraft C-130), payment of subsistence allowances, during their stay in Isparta, and all training expenses. (The approximate cost of this activity is 3.5 million dollars.)

“Within the context of the training Protocol that was signed in 1991, more than 7,500 military personnel were trained in the Gambia between 1991 and 2005 by the Turkish Gendarmerie Training Teams and military equipment grants were made, and logistics support activities were carried out several times. Under the Cash Aid Protocol: The GAF has been able to participate in short-term training programs run at Center of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism and other training institutions,” he said. Major General Mamat OA Cham echoed the sentiment of strong ties, tracing back to the early 1990s, and highlighted Turkey’s support in education, health, defense, and security. The CDS emphasized the positive impact of Turkish assistance, including training programs and logistics provision under various military cooperation agreements.

“The scope of the support and assistance from the Republic of Türkiye to The Gambia was enhanced to include training and capacity building slots, among other things, on a gratis basis to the Armed Forces leading to the training of our personnel in reputable Turkish military and defence institutions.

“The support also includes the provision of logistics in the form of equipment and other military items by the Turkish government to the GAF under several military cooperation agreements such as the Cash Aid Protocol, the Military Cooperation Agreement on training and capacity building, and so on,” CDS Cham stated. The recent donation of communication equipment, part of the annual Cash Aid Protocol between the Gambia and Turkey, was emphasized by CDS Cham. The equipment, including ASELSAN repeater radios, fixed centre radios, vehicular mounted radios, and handheld radios, is expected to significantly enhance the GAF’s communication capabilities.

“The communications equipment includes ASELSAN repeater Radios, Fixed Center Radios, Vehicular Mounted Radios, and Handheld Radios and they signify a significant milestone in our quest to enhance our communication capabilities. The donation will therefore greatly impact various aspects of our operations within and outside the Gambia.

“Overall, the donated equipment will enhance Our communication infrastructure, and aid in the interoperability of our communications platforms, thus contributing to GAF’s enhanced capacity for the rapid deployment and ease of communication during operations,” he said. 

Major General Cham detailed how these tools would improve coverage in challenging terrains, establish reliable communication to signal centres, and facilitate real-time communication during mobilization.

“The Repeater Radios will enhance coverage in challenging terrains, ensuring seamless communication even in remote areas. The fixed centre Radios will establish reliable communication to our various Signal Centres within the Armed Forces, facilitating a continuous flow of comms. Vehicular-mounted Radios will prove invaluable during mobilization, allowing for real-time communication on the move, especially in the rural areas where our radio coverage is not available.

“Additionally, the handheld Radios will empower our personnel with flexibility and agility, essential in both field deployments within GAF and future peacekeeping missions. This state-of-the-art Radio Communication Equipment with enhanced range, clarity, and most importantly with secured channels will therefore contribute significantly to GAF’s strategic communication infrastructure, aiding swift decision-making and coordination during operations,” he said. 

CDS emphasized that Aselsan Radio Communication Equipment aligns seamlessly with its mission to safeguard the nation, expressing confidence that these tools will play a crucial role in its defence strategy. He reassured the Turkish Ambassador that the donated items would be utilized for their intended purpose.

Simultaneously, Turkish Ambassador Tolga Bermek called for the enhancement of the relationship between the Gambia and Turkey. Ambassador Bermek highlighted one of Turkey’s core foreign policy principles, actively contributing to international peace and stability. He reiterated Turkey’s commitment to supporting the Gambia Armed Forces in their participation in international peacekeeping missions.

“One of the core principles of Turkey’s foreign policy is to contribute actively to international peace and stability. In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting the Gambia Armed Forces in their efforts to engage in international peacekeeping missions,” Ambassador Bermek said. 

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