The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) recently received a significant boost in their operational capabilities with the generous donation of military hardware from Turkey. Among the items donated were two Otokar Cobra armored personnel carriers, reflecting Turkey’s commitment to bolstering Gambia’s defense and peacekeeping efforts.
The handover ceremony took place on September 20th at the Turkish embassy in Banjul, where various “non-lethal military items” were presented. These items included high-frequency (HF) radios, mine detectors, uniforms, winter jackets, raincoats, combat boots, and more.
Turkey’s ambassador to Gambia, Tolga Bermek, highlighted the importance of this gesture as a testament to the growing cooperation between Ankara and Banjul, not only in bilateral relations but also in military collaboration. The donation signifies Turkey’s willingness to contribute to Gambia’s foreign policy objectives and peacekeeping missions.
Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, expressed his gratitude for the donated equipment. He emphasized that these resources would play a vital role in supporting United Nations peace support operations across the globe, underlining the significance of international partnerships in maintaining peace and security.
The relationship between Turkey and The Gambia dates back to 1965, characterized by strong ties both bilaterally and multilaterally, particularly within the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Turkish military officers have been providing training to Gambian soldiers since the 1990s. Between 1991 and 2007, Turkish military trainers trained approximately 7,000 Gambian soldiers.
While the training agreement between the two countries expired in 2007, Gambian troops have continued to receive valuable training in Turkey. Over 500 Gambian soldiers have visited Turkey for training since then, with a notable contingent of 250 Gambian soldiers arriving in Turkey in January 2022 to receive counter-terrorism training.
In 2014, defense cooperation reached new heights when the Gambia Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey signed a bilateral agreement for logistical assistance. Turkey further supported Gambia with a $600,000 donation, aimed at aiding Gambia’s peacekeeping mission in Mali and addressing other logistical challenges.
April 2022 witnessed Turkey’s provision of security equipment, which included shields, gas masks, radios, and various other items, further fortifying Gambia’s defense capabilities. Past donations from Turkey have included thousands of uniforms, tents, water bottles, and various other essential equipment. In 2019, it was revealed that Turkey had provided $1.4 million in military assistance to The Gambia, although specific details of the aid were not disclosed.
Notably, Gambia received two Katmerciler Hizir armored vehicles from Turkey last year, hinting at a larger contract for an additional 20 vehicles in the future. This ongoing support from Turkey underscores the commitment to strengthening Gambia’s defense forces and fostering enduring diplomatic ties.
As The Gambia continues to enhance its capabilities with Turkish assistance, the cooperation between these nations remains a testament to the importance of international partnerships in maintaining peace and security in an ever-changing world.