Invasion of Gambia: And keeping the peace. (Part 2)

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War is never the best option, it is usually the last route to take after completing an exhaustive list of options. The story of Gambia is not unique in the sense that most African countries with military dictators always end up the same way:- Refusal to give up power. They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, I think Africans took that quote to heart nicely.

Although, this is a hypothetic scenario and it is in no way representing the actual facts on ground. Assuming Gambia goes for another election and this time it is massively rigged (as expected) and the incumbent president Mr. Yahya Jammeh wins, what will be the response of the world in general and specifically Africa since this will clearly indicate the dearth of freedom of expression in the country.

Few days back, various heads of states visited Gambia to try to convince the outgoing president Mr. Yahya Jammeh to step down and relinquish, the Nigerian Senate even approved a plan to shelter him in Nigerian soil if the need arises. The heads of state reinstated their commitment that he must step down after intelligence reports suggested that Mr. Jammeh was recruiting youths and employing mercenaries at the border.

Although, not much is known about the size of the new recruits or the expertise of the newly employed mercenaries nevertheless, recruitment of mercenaries has always been a precursor to armed conflict.

Use of arms would be a foolhardy move by the incumbent president but that has never stopped most dictators when their power is threatened. Mr. Jammeh announced during a press briefing that the use of force against him in any attempt to unseat him is an act of war and he will reciprocate accordingly. This is a clear indication of his motive and future actions.
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President Jammel inspecting a Guard Of Honor.

Spearheading any assault to unseat him will be the Nigerians which are quite experienced in this type of situation having unseated many heads of states all over Africa and especially West African region. This article attempts to give insight on the possible methods the Nigerian military forces will assault, capture, hold and ground in a foreign soil.

Although the Nigerian Military has vast amount of experience in amphibious assault operation having undertaking the largest amphibious operation in the whole African continent when they assaulted the beach of bonny in the now defunct Biafra-land in an attempt to reunited the breakaway faction state. Despite the vast experience in such operation, the military is plagued with limited amount of amphibious vessels. The Nigerian Navy has little or no amphibious landing ships with the only operational landing vessel wielded shut thereby rendering her almost useless in an assault. Most West African countries navy are of similar state.


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Few warships will be required for an effective blockade.
An over-sea assault is out of the question however, blockade of the Gambia is highly possible to prevent arms from coming in to re-enforce the Gambia military forces. The Gambian Navy is in no position to threaten a naval blockade with her most powerful naval vessels being four units of Hai Ou-class fast attack craft. The fast attack craft are usually berthed in the Jammeh naval base.

 Landing crafts and shore bombardment.

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Nigerian Navy small boats
Landing crafts filled with Nigerian Amphibious units will be sent from the neighboring Senegal to land on the beach supported by armed helicopters. Beach landing should go unopposed.

The Gambian Navy and Marine has no credible weapon system to counter or challenge a naval assault or blockade of its coastline. Therefore a comprehensive shore bombardment is not necessary but if the need arises such capability is well within the strength of the Nigerian Military.

Battery and counter-Battery.

According to Stockholm international for Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) did not specify if the Gambian military operates Artillery or any other area-denial weapons. (E.g. Land-based anti-ship missiles or naval mines).


Nigerian Army troops
A multi-pronged approach will be made from Senegal considering that the Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal. A combined arms troop of about 3,000 men consisting of regulars and Special Forces can be utilized. The Senegal special forces are highly credible and professional which can supplement or support the Nigerian contingent. Tanks are totally unnecessary but Armored Personnel Carriers are recommended. The Gambian military do not operate tanks.
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Senegalese Special Operations Force during Exercise Flintlock.

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Senegalese Special Operations Forces

Air Support and Gambian Close Air Support (CAS)

 The Gambian air component is negligible at best, although they do operate a single Sukhoi SU-25 Frogfoot Close air support aircraft and four units of AirTractor propeller aircrafts configured for strike and ground attack operations. This could pose a challenge if they are left to roam freely. The Sukhoi SU-25 CAS aircraft are old soviet era armored planes use for supporting troops on the ground. They are rugged and can handle quite a lot of beating and still return to base to fight another day. 

The Airtractor AT402B is a light propeller driven aircraft made in the USA initially used by agriculturist for spraying crops. It has been configure to carry rockets, bombs (both guided and unguided) and machine guns to help troops on the ground. It is a very maneuverable plane which can pose a challenge to troops on ground if not properly checkmated early.

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Quick transition of government is required if Jammeh is ousted to prevent an escalation of crime or terrorism since terrorism fester in uncontrolled or ungoverned environment. Also, Gambia has a population of about 90 percent Muslims which much of those being youths and middle age. Such composition is volatile and fragile since radicalization can rapidly spread among the populace.

Demobilization, Reconstruction and reintegration of the whole country should be undertaken immediately and a credible leadership installed to forestall break down of law and order.


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