Military of the Gambia

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Military of the Gambia
Flag of The Gambia.svg
Gambian flag
Founded 1965
Current form 1996
Service branches Gambia National Army
Gambia Navy
Headquarters Banjul, the Gambia
President of the Gambia Adama Barrow
Chief of the Defence Staff Masaneh Kinteh
Military age 18 for voluntary service
Available for
military service
311,025 males, age 18–49,
316,214 females, age 18–49
Fit for
military service
183,057 males, age 18–49,
194,551 females, age 18–49
Percent of GDP 0.5%

The military of the Gambia is the armed forces of the Gambia. It consists of two branches, the Gambia National Army and the Gambian Navy. It formerly included the National Republican Guards, from 2008 to their abolition in 2017, and the Gendarmerie, from 1965 to 1996, when they were moved under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. The commander-in-chief is the President of the Gambia who is currently Adama Barrow, whereas practical control is exercised by the Chief of the Defence Staff who is currently Lieutenant General Masaneh Kinteh.

History and formation[edit]

Gambian soldiers in 2012

Prior to 1965, the Gambia was a colony of the British Empire. In 1901, the Gambia Company was raised as part of the newly-created West African Frontier Force (WAFF). Initially, part of the Sierra Leone Battalion, the Company fought in World War I in the Kamerun Campaign. During World War II, it became a regiment and consisted of two battalions, notably fighting in the Burma Campaign. The Gambia Regiment existed until 1958 when it was disbanded in favour of the Gambia Frontier Force, a paramilitary unit. Other military formations relating to the Gambia included the Gambia Volunteer Artillery in the early 20th century and the Gambia Naval Volunteer Force that existed from 1936 through World War II.[1] The Gambia was also home to RAF Yundum and RAF Bathurst and was the namesake of HMS Gambia, a light cruiser in service from 1942 to 1960.

The Gambia achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and the Gambia Field Force remained as its main military unit until it was disbanded in 1981, following the failed coup of that year. The Armed Act was passed in 1984, establishing the Gambian military again in the guise of the Gambia National Army (GNA) and the Gendarmerie. The British Army Training Team (BATT) and the Senegalese Gendarmerie were to train the respective branches. In 1986, the Gambian Navy was founded, and in 1994 the Gendarmerie merged with the GNA.[2]

The 1994 coup d'etat in the Gambia was executed by officers of the Gambia National Army, led by then-Captain Yahya Jammeh. They ruled via a military junta, called the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), for two years until the 1996 presidential election in which Jammeh won. Jammeh remained in power until the 2016 presidential election, where an opposition coalition saw Adama Barrow's election. In the ensuing 2016–2017 Gambian constitutional crisis, the Gambian National Army remained neutral while the Gambian Navy declared its support for Barrow. The National Republic Guard remained with Jammeh and several of its soldiers were evacuated with him on 21 January 2017. January 2017 also saw a military intervention in the Gambia from the militaries of ECOWAS.


  • Commander-in-Chief: President Adama Barrow
    • Chief of the Defence Staff: Lieut. Gen. Masaneh Kinteh
      • Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff: Maj. Gen. Yankuba Drammeh
        • Commander, Gambia National Army
        • Commander, Gambian Navy
        • Commander, National Republican Guard

Gambia National Army[edit]

The Gambia National Army (GNA) has a strength of 900 and is composed of two infantry battalions and one engineering squadron. The GNA makes use of eight Ferret armoured cars and four M8 Greyhound armoured cars.[3]

The GNA receives training assistance from various places. Since 2006, soldiers of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment of the British Army have deployed bi-annually to the Gambia. In January 2017, they helped train them prior to their deployment to Sudan as part of the peacekeeping operation.[4] Between 1991 and 2005, the Turkish Gendarmerie Training Team deployed to the Gambia. Since then, a Military Advisory Mechanism has been in place.[5]

Gambian soldiers practicing drill, July 2011.

The government considered creating a Gambian Air Force in 2002 and sent pilots to be trained by Ukraine. It purchased its first aircraft, a Sukhoi Su-25, from Georgia in 2003. However, it did not go ahead with the programme and did not announce the creation of an air force.[6]

List of equipment[edit]

National Republican Guard[edit]

An amendment to the Gambia Armed Forces Bill in April 2008 included the creation of a new branch of the GAF, the National Republican Guard (NRG).

The NRG is thought to have a strength of 50 personnel and is made up of a State Guard unit, a Special Forces unit, and a Presidential Guard unit.

Gambian Navy[edit]

Gambian Navy officer training with the US Coast Guard.

The strength of the Gambian Navy is estimated at between 125 and 250 personnel. It exists to enforce fishery legislation and regulation, and assistance has been given in that task by the Senegalese Navy. In February 2008, officers of the US Navy helped to install an automatic identification system in the Gambia called the Maritime Security and Safety Information System (MSSIS). In September 2011, a team from the HSV-2 Swift docked in Banjul to conduct a two-week intensive training programme for the Navy. In August 2013, Taiwan donated three new patrol vessels to the Gambia to replace the four ageing vessels of the Dvora-class that it donated in 2009.[9]


According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the Gambia has contributed troops to a number of peacekeeping operations:[10]

Aircraft inventory[edit]

The Gambian army operates a single Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot attack jet and four propeller-driven aircraft.[11]

Current aircraft

Aircraft Type Versions In service Notes
Sukhoi Su-25 Ground attack aircraft 1
Air Tractor AT-802 COIN\CAS Aircraft AT-802A 2
Short SC.7 Skyvan Transport Aircraft 3M 1
Britten-Norman Defender Patrol 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gambia Naval Volunteer Force" (PDF). The London Gazette. 8 May 1936. 
  2. ^ "Defence & Military in Gambia". Access Gambia. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "The Gambia". Defence Web. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Tense time for RG trainers in recent Gambia deployment". Gibraltar Chronicle. 24 March 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  5. ^ "Relations between Turkey and the Gambia". Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 2014-04-09. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Gambia Air Force". Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference jones2009 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference Jones was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ "Gambian Navy". Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  10. ^ “The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute” Archived 2016-01-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ World Air Forces 2013. Sutton, Surrey: Flightglobal Insight. 2012. p. 15. 


External links[edit]

  • Ravi Rikhye, Gambia,, 2002