In his rebuttal to my open letter to the Armed Forces of The Gambia (Freedom News Paper, Jan 2nd. 2014), retired Lt. Col. Lamin Gano has mentioned few key points which are misleading and perhaps false. I am writing this now because someone just brought the article to my attention and after re-reading it, I cannot help but clarify those points to the readership and to men and women of the Gambia’s Armed Forces and for them to make their own objective judgment as to the accuracy of the claims.

First, I will start with this in his own words. “I can say with utmost authority and confidence (and debate with anyone who wants to take me on this) that The Gambia Armed Forces is one of the most professional, disciplined and competently militaries not only in Africa but in the whole world”……

Quite a statement but in reality, professional military will owe their allegiance to the constitutions of the country not the leadership. They will uphold the law which means not harassing, detaining, torturing and more importantly not killing innocent helpless people. A professional soldier will try and win the heart and souls of those he/she is sworn to defend and protect and not instill fear, hopelessness and despair just because he (the soldier) has guns and bullets. And that defense and protection includes even from those in power and authority. That is what I understand as professionalism and competent military.

Putting on a uniform should not be about power but humility, selflessness, duty to your fellow human beings (even those you never heard of or met). You put your life on line so that they can have lives, they can have liberty and pursue their happiness at your own expense. That is professionalism and that is competence. You as soldier must not aid or abet tyranny, and be agents of fear , intimidation and be part of a system that destroys lives of so many people. Yes that is professionalism and competence.

For over twenty two years, Gambians have endured the wrath of a dictator and tyrant and who are helping him? The Armed Forces of the Gambia. For over twenty two years, Mr. Gano under his watchful eyes, witnessed the systemic torture, disappearances, illegal detentions of endless Gambians by the very establishment he was part of. I am surprised that he would stick his neck out for them? Negative. For over sixteen years he, served a leader who pay no attention to the very constitution he and the rest of the Armed Forces were sworn to defend but fail to perform their duty to do so. That is not professionalism or competence. If you help a criminal to commit crime, you are as guilty as the criminal. Can you live with your conscience knowing that you have helped killed an innocent person, leaving their families in persistent pain and sufferings? Can you call your self professional when your bullets cause a child fatherless because you killed his or her innocent parent? How many Gambians have been killed or being sent to the slammer not based on the law of the land but on the order of the president who has no constitutional authority to do so? Yes that is not professionalism or competence.

Let me move on to your next misleading statement. In your own word here I quote you sir and with all due respect.

“Every single military personnel in the world and every person with the knowledge/involvement with the military knows that the backbone/foundation for military professionalism, competence and discipline is the strict adherence to the chain of command and respect and obedience to the orders/instructions of superior commanders. The level of professionalism of professionalism of any military in the world is greatly determined and judged by the degree to which its personnel obeys and upholds the orders/instruction of their superior commanders. This is one of the factors that makes the US Military one of the most effective fighting forces in the world”

Again Mr. Gano is wrong and and is misleading, and I stand by that statement. It is not the strict adherence to obey the orders of a superior that is the foundation of military professionalism , competence and discipline but rather the orders have to be legal, moral and ethical. Every military personnel can and should disobey an order that is illegal, immoral and unethical. That is what the United States military members are taught from basic entry training to each time he/she is deployed. As far as discipline is concerned, U.S military is not most effective just because of that level of discipline but many factors most important is their respect for rule of law, ability to look beyond their present moment and their ability to win the hearts and minds of those they are paid defend and protect and that includes the constitution of the land. No military member can give the excuse “I am just following order” especially in the United States military so please don’t preach me about U.S. military Mr. Gano

When Mr Gano gave an example of U.S. drone hitting a wedding ceremony in Yemen on December 12, 2013 killing 12 and injuring 14, he stated that if those personnel who conducted the drone attacks should receive the same order right now to repeat the same action, they would obey the order without the slightest hesitation.

Again this is false and misleading. First when the drone hit that wedding ceremony, it happened based on faulty intelligence not based on deliberate act of sabotage. If the order was given again and that they know for certain that those people were innocent , I can bet my life that they will never follow such orders because it is illegal, immoral and unethical. Men and women of the United States military are too decent and have moral conscience and as such will not be involved in a deliberate act of killing innocent civilian.

Finally, I want Mr. Gano to know that military profession is a noble and sacred . Those who put on the uniform must be brave and decent enough to stand up and defend the very innocent people they are paid to protect. There is constitution in the Gambia and Yahya Jammeh doesn’t give a rat ass to it and none of you have the audacity to stand up to him . He broke every law on the book and you helped him either because you are afraid of him or you are an opportunist. Either way, it is wrong to victimize innocent people.

I am sure and I believe that there are thousands of decent soldiers in the Gambia right now who want to do the right thing but people like Gano stood in their way. You created an environment of mistrust and empowered a tyrannical dictator and you now want him to give up the very power that you helped solidified. That is hypocrisy at its best and very cowardice. You very much know that Jammeh is never going to give power voluntarily. So therefore forcibly removing becomes the only viable option out there. It can only be achieve when there is the will, the trust, wittiness , and moral conscience among the members of the Gambian Armed Forces. Jammeh has done too much damage to our country and removing him becomes a necessity.

I love Gambia a lot and it is very heartbreaking and beyond belief to see our people suffer this much and this long. There is no excuse for anyone not to speak against what is happening their or not to even act and end it all for everyone.

God bless our people and may He gives them all the courage to stand up for justice and rule of law. Yahya Jammeh must be removed by any means necessary.

Mbackeh Jabbi
Virginia,
United States of America

Ends

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