The Gambia’s Army has sent just fewer than a hundred soldiers to take part in a Saudi led military exercises as the country deepen ties with the Middle Eastern nation.
At least 85 Gambian soldiers took part in the multinational joint military exercise give the name “Gulf Shield 1” in Persian Gulf city of Dammam, 800 miles northeast of Mecca.
According to Brig. Gen. Al-Subaie, the exercise aims to raise the competencies of the participating forces to face the challenges and threats within a joint operation environment, in order to achieve the concept of joint action, where many modern and sophisticated weapons are used.
Various activities involving joint operational planning, training, demonstrations, seminars on professional topics, and cultural events will be conducted in the harbor phase of the exercise, with the aim of mutually benefiting the participants and generating goodwill.
Gambia’s Army said the purpose of the exercise is to integrate the armed forces from ‘friendly’ countries in order to combat and counter threats and challenges of global terrorism.
The joint military exercise is taking place just outside of Qatar, a country which the Gambia is friendly to but in a diplomatic warfare with the Saudis, who accused the small Gulf nation of sponsoring terrorists.
West Africa is facing a hefty challenge from terrorists. Extremist groups have carried out attacks in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, the latest of which left at least a dozen dead. Its closest neighbor, Senegal thwarted several attempts.
At least 23 other countries are taking part in the exercise. It was the largest in the region in terms of the number of participating countries and the equipment used.
Irregular warfare, coastal defense, combat search and rescue, naval warfare exercises and extensive flying operations were also conducted during the sea phase of the exercise.
The Gambia’s neighbor Senegal has sent forces to join the Saudi military coalition that has been engaged in the war in Yemen. Dakar sent at least 2,000 troops to combat Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia – the world’s top oil exporter and the Sunni Muslim regional rival of Iran – said Houthi forces posed a threat to its security after they captured Yemen’s capital and began advancing across the country.