v. 1.0 July 14, 2002

Ravi Rikhye

The Gambia’s armed forces total 1,900, not 800 as the IISS Military Balance 2001-02 gives, unless the IISS is counting differently. The armed organizations include the army, the navy which is part of the army, and a National Guard.  There is also a police force/gendarmerie.

The IISS gives two infantry battalions; our sources say there are at least two, but are not sure if there are more.

Additionally, there is the:

Ř      Presidential Guard [IISS says one company, which seems about right]
Ř      State Guard [commanded by a lieutenant, so presumably platoon-sized]
Ř      Gambian Marine Unit [IISS says 70 troops]
Ř      Military Police Unit
Ř      Military Intelligence Office [located at Banjul, the capital]
Ř      National Intelligence Agency [may not be part of army]

There are barracks at Fajara, Yundun, Kudang, and Farafenni. There are likely to be more posts and installations. Banjul seems to be the sole airport.

The Chief of Staff of the Gambian Army is a colonel.

Gambia is a small country with 1.3 million people, and everyone seems to know everyone else and their business. As such, its surprising more orbat data is not available. In the Gambia it would seem difficult to hide units.

The Gambia takes part in UN peacekeeping operations.

Budgetary Issues

Surprisingly, particularly in 2002, the Gambia budget document as released to the public is singularly devoid of details in all categories. The national debt is more than the GNP of $330 million.

The 2002 Government expenditure budget is 1.5 billion dalasis. The IISS estimates the 2001 defense expenditure as 200 million dalasis , or a reasonable 13%. At 2001 exchange rates, defense spending is about $13 million. Given the country’s per capita income is about $250, the expenditure of more than $6000 per soldier is odd, considering there is no heavy equipment.

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All content © 2002 Ravi Rikhye. Reproduction in any form prohibited without express permission.