The Honourable Minister of Defence, His Excellency Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye on Wednesday 22 July 2020 received four prominent former Senior Officers of the Gambia Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defence. The Officers were the Former Chief of Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Colonel (rtd) Baboucarr Jatta, Former Service Chief, Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) Lawrence R Jarra, Former Permanent Secretary, Captain (rtd) Joseph Jassey and former MA to the Chief of Defence Staff and former spokesperson of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) Lamin Gano.
The Honourable Minister’s meeting with the senior retired Officers was centered on military reform and transformation. The Honourable Minister thanked them for making themselves available for the meeting. He informed them of his intention to set up a Defence Advisory Group which will comprise of retired senior officers and warrant officers to advise him on policy related issues particularly within the context of the Security Sector Reform. He expressed his intention to continue to constructively engage them as we chart our way forward as a Ministry.
He told the retired senior officers that one very fundamental approach to security sector reform (SSR) is local ownership. Taking local ownership into consideration in all aspects of SSR-related activities is crucial to the success of an SSR programme. Local ownership ensures understanding and respect for local needs, values and traditions; it promotes participatory approaches; ensure people-centered SSR programmes; Civic empowerment/capacity building and donors take domestic actors seriously.
Local ownership makes SSR sustainable and ensures that SSR activities respond to local needs. It also helps strengthen the legitimacy of security and justice institutions. Reforms that are not shaped and driven by local actors are unlikely to meet the actual needs of the population. In many instances such reform processes may not be sustainable and could even exacerbate the situation. The success of a reform process is therefore highly dependent on the level of local ownership. Without local ownership, SSR is likely to fail.
The retired Senior Officers for their part thanked the Honourable Minister for the very constructive meeting. They assured him of their support and availability at all times.
Present at the meet were the Military Assistant to the Honourable Minister and the Gambia Armed Forces Liaison Officer at the Ministry.