Gambia The Military - 2023


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Gambian Armed Forces (GAF): the Gambian National Army (GNA), Gambia Navy, Gambia Air Force, Republican National Guard (2023)

note: the National Guard is responsible for VIP protection, riot control, and presidential security; the Gambia Police Force under the Ministry of Interior maintains internal security

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2022 est.)

0.8% of GDP (2021 est.)

0.8% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 3,000 active troops (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the GAF has a limited and obsolescent equipment inventory originating from several suppliers, including China, the UK, and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age for male and female voluntary military service (18-22 for officers); no conscription; service obligation 6 months (2021)

Military - note

the Gambian security forces have a history of involvement in domestic politics, including multiple coups attempts and mutinies, with the latest being an attempted coup in 2022; since 2017, Gambia’s security sector has been undergoing reforms as part of a national reconstruction effort to recover from the 22 years of Yahya JAMMEH’s autocratic rule under which the security forces were severely under-resourced in terms of finances and equipment and were largely directed towards regime protection and suppressing dissent; international partners, including member states of the EU, particularly France and Germany, and the US have provided support to military and police reforms; several members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have also provided security forces for stability, as well as assistance and training through the ECOWAS Mission in the Gambia (ECOMIG); as of 2023, ECOMIG continued to provide about 1,000 military and gendarmerie personnel from Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal

the GAF is a lightly armed force with about 5 small infantry battalions, a handful of coastal patrol boats, and a few aircraft; in addition to external defense, the responsibilities of the GAF include providing maritime security, countering human trafficking, aiding civil authorities in emergencies and natural disaster relief, and engaging in activities such as engineering, education, health, and agriculture for domestic socio-economic development; the GAF also participates in peacekeeping missions, and since its first deployments in the 1990s, has been involved in more than 10 UN peacekeeping missions while contributing about 4,000 total troops 

the GAF traces its origins to the Gambia Regiment of the British Army; established in 1901, the Gambia Regiment was part of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF, later Royal West African Frontier Force or RWAFF) and served in both World Wars, including the British 1944-45 military campaign in Burma; the Gambia Regiment was disbanded in 1958 and replaced by the Field Force, a police paramilitary unit; the Field Force was responsible for The Gambia’s security until the establishment of the GAF in 1985; in addition, a defense agreement signed in 1965 between The Gambia and Senegal provided mutual assistance in the face of an external threat; from 1981-1989, The Gambia and Senegal formed a Confederal Army that was made up of troops from both countries (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Gambia The on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Gambia The 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Gambia The 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.