The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) have taken delivery of a consignment of military hardware donated by Turkey, including two Otokar Cobra armoured personnel carriers.
The ‘non-lethal military items’ were handed over by Turkey’s embassy in Banjul on 20 September, the Gambia Armed Forces reported, and included the two vehicles, high frequency (HF) Radios, mine detectors, uniforms, winter jackets, rain coats and combat boots, amongst others.
Turkey’s ambassador to Gambia Tolga Bermek said the handover marked a significant milestone in the bilateral and military cooperation between Ankara and Banjul and allowed Turkey to contribute to Gambia’s foreign policy and peacekeeping efforts.
The Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Yakuba A Drammeh, said the donated equipment would go a long way in supporting United Nations peace support operations around the world.
Since 1965, both countries have maintained good relations bilaterally and multilaterally, especially at the United Nations and Islamic Cooperation Organization. Turkish military officers have provided training since the 1990s and between 1991 and 2007, Turkish military trainers trained around 7 000 Gambian soldiers. After the expiry of the training agreement between two countries in 2007, Gambian troops started receiving training in Turkey and since then more than 500 Gambian soldiers have visited Turkey for training. In January 2022, 250 Gambian soldiers arrived in Turkey to receive counter-terrorism training.
In 2014, defence cooperation was further deepened, and the Gambia Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey signed a bilateral agreement for the provision of logistical assistance to the Gambia Armed Forces. Turkey also donated $600 000 to help Gambia with its peacekeeping mission in Mali and other logistical issues.
In April 2022, Turkey provided security equipment to Gambia that included shields, gas masks, radios and other items. Other donations have included thousands of uniforms, tents, water bottles and other equipment. In 2019 it was announced that Turkey had provided $1.4 million in military assistance to The Gambia, the content of which was not disclosed.
Two Katmerciler Hizir armoured vehicles arrived from Turkey in Gambia last year, with a contract apparently in place for 20 vehicles.