ARCHIVE (Re-post): First published on 2nd April 2020, on The Digest News.
A leaked internal memo purportedly written by Major Abdoulie Mboob, Military Assistant to the immediate-past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) Masanneh N. Kinteh has shown a request made on behalf of Kinteh to allow him to maintain his two drivers, two Orderlies, two utility vehicles and five guards until he takes up his new appointment in the Foreign Service.
This is another justification for some of the points I raised in my previous article on the need to revamp the Gambia Armed Forces. In that article, I maintained that the Gambia Armed Forces lost its proper regimentation and sense of direction after the 1994 military takeover. That is why, some of the officers commissioned during the Jammeh regime were focused on enriching themselves, abusing the resources provided by the State to the detriment of their core values and duties, etc.
As a retired military general, whatever services Masanneh Kinteh is entitled to, should be in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of Services of the Gambia Armed Forces. As part of the Security Sector Reform, the Gambia Armed Forces, the Terms and Conditions of Services of GAF is under review, although there is no information as to whether it is completed or not. Once completed, the document should be presented to the Ministry of Defence and the ministry will present it to the National Assembly for approval and the assembly will send it to the Ministry of Justice to gazette it.
In the event that his entitled services (as a retired general) are not in the Terms and Conditions of Services, what Masanneh Kinteh should have done, is to talk to his successor (Major General Yakuba A. Drammeh) directly about such needs if possible. This is because, currently, the new CDS Yakuba Drammeh has the prerogative to give him (Kinteh) a minimum grace period of one month to simply transition from his former appointment to civilian life, by allowing him to retain a vehicle, a driver, an Orderly and few guards for his transition period.
On the other hand, if Kinteh’s request is granted, he will consume the operational budget of the armed forces, and all those things were not budgeted for. The questions we should be asking should be: Who will fuel the two vehicles? Who will feed the men with him and how long will all these take?
In well-established armed forces, once you reach the level of service chiefs (eg, Army Commander, Airforce Commander, Navy Commander), and Chief of Defence Staff(CDS), your salary continues for life unless you enter into partisan politics, then it seizes.
However, this only applies when you are retired but if you are dismissed, you are not entitled to anything. If you are dismissed, you will lose your services and all other privileges.
Initial enlistment for soldiers (Gambia Armed Forces)
Previously, soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces serve for six (6) years in colors and six (6) years reserve. Later, this was reviewed.
According to the TACOS Soldiers 1993, other ranks have two options to either sign for 12 years of active service which will be deemed to include any reserving service or sign for 9 years active service and 3 years in the reserve. Thereafter the enlisted could reengage for 6 years and is further entitled to 2 years extension on two consecutive times. This will take him/ her to 22 years of service. After which the other rank will now be put on one yearly contract. Most importantly, all these are preceded by medical and physical tests to ascertain the individual’s fitness to continue military service.
Otherwise, you will be retired, and benefits will be paid.
Unlike soldiers, commissioned officers are not enlisted. They are like civil servants that serve to the age of retirement, which used to be a minimum of 45 and a maximum of 55 years. During this period, officers may up for voluntary retirement after serving for nine (9) or twelve (12) years.
Therefore, in the case of General Kinteh, he should have served to the point of retirement. But, in the absence of that retirement, it is the prerogative of the Commander-In-Chief (C-In-C), who is vested with the powers to appoint, dismiss or retire commissioned officers. Accordingly, officers do not discharge from the services. According to the Terms and Conditions of Services of the armed forces, soldiers are discharged but officers are retired.
Armed forces around the world
In well-established armed forces around the world, it is clearly stipulated in their Terms and Conditions of Services, the entitlement that goes with the retirement of service chiefs and CDS and even senior officers that rose to the rank of Brigadier General and above; and its equivalent in other services, eg; Air Force and Navy. As earlier mentioned, these entitlements after retirement include the continuous payment of salaries for service chiefs and CDS for the rest of their lives and a take-home of a brand-new car that is renewable every four years. Also, these retired service chiefs will be provided with four to six guards on active duty, a Steward, a cook, and an Orderly.
In the case of the Gambia Armed Forces, some of these things are not mentioned in the Terms and Conditions of Services and might be mentioned in the new Terms and Conditions of Service being reviewed too.
If these entitlements were mentioned in the Terms and Conditions of Services, then General Kinteh would not have even requested some services as seen in the leaked GAF Memo. Instead, the Ministry of Defence would have approved such entitlements immediately for him.