Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh, Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces

(JollofNews) – The head of Gambia’s Armed Forces has revealed plans to reform and restructure the military into a professional one that will play its constitutional and pivotal role in national development.

Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh said the new army will be non-tribally inclined and free from partisan politics.

“I always believe that is possible because if we pay attentions to the needs of institutions as part of the reform process I think we should be to correct all those wrongs of the past,” Kinteh who appointed Chief of the Defence Staff in February by the country’s new president, Adama Barrow, said in an interview with the state owned GRTS television.

“We have been given a lot of opportunity again as a country and a security institution to be able to design policies and programmes that is going to transform the armed forces and bring it to the same level to other armed forces in the sub-region.

“I believe training is very critical in developing our man power and resource base. We want to make sure that men and women know what are their roles and functions and how to do their job better and smarter. Other areas that we are looking at is how do we enhance the capacity of the armed forces in ensuring that we can play a big role in terms of international peace keeping missions.

“Another area is to ensure that the living condition of the ordinary soldier is improve, the pay and allowances of the soldier are improved and how do we ensure that they have good shelter in their barracks and adequate logistic support to be able to undertake their operational and administrative activities such as transportations, communications etc.”

The former ambassador to Cuba added: “You cannot imagine the Gambia as a sovereign nation in the world without a standing military even if our role only stops at securing our border from the southern part so that the rebellion that is in that part of the region does not cross over to the country even if our roles stops at only that I think is something that is worth pursuing.”

During the 22 year rule of former President Jammeh, the Gambian army was used to strengthen his grip on power and in the arrest, torture and extra judicial killings of government opponents and critics.

But Kinteh who previously served as Chief of the Defence Staff in the Jammeh regime from October 2009 to July 2012, defended his role in the Jammeh regime saying: “I have no regrets working with the past government because I was working for the interest of the Gambian people.

“I was working in an institution where I think I have the requisite knowledge and skills to be able to make a change and during my time as the Chief of the Defence Staff, I was able to initiate programmes that were able to put the Gambia Armed Forces back on track. Example, such as the reforms that we had conducted in ensuring that the Armed Forces understand its role as to an institution that it supposed to be subservient to the civil authority and at the same time a key player in national development.

“It was during that time that we were able to construct projects like the Mayork secondary and the Faraba project so those were days that the Armed Forces was very much into national development and we had undertaken a lot of developmental activities within the country and even outside while we serving peace keeping around the world.”