‘AFL Doing Well, But Under Resourced’
-- U.S. Ambassador
U.S. Ambassador Michael Mcarthy could not hold back a smile as he expressed his delight at the workings of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and other national security actors helping to secure Liberia’s borders with Guinea, amid the prevailing security concerns in that neighboring country (Guinea).
The American Ambassador and his entourage flew to Lofa via a private mini American flight and landed at the county’s air strip, avoiding what would have otherwise been a tedious journey on the bad road on the way to Lofa.
“We are pleased that today the Liberian Army is doing tremendously well. The size of the Army is small, but very professional and able to take charge of multiple responsibilities. We are glad that Liberia, a country still nursing its ugly past, can now boast of this team of committed, patriotic and loyal men and women,” he said as the audience applauded.
He said his government is very proud to stand side by side with the Armed Forces of Liberia. “The concentration of the United States government will continue to be the development of personnel of the AFL. We believe that a lot can happen for the common good of Liberia. We allow a small size of the Liberian military to visit America and get training. They are trained alongside Americans, blacks, and whites alike. They are trained alongside other nationals and we are proud of that.”
He emphasized that Liberian soldiers who go to America for training receive firsthand American training that any American soldier receives when he or she goes for training in West Point and elsewhere in the United States. Ambassador McCarthy said there are U.S. professional army men and women who visit Liberia and help in the training of the Liberian Military for certain disciplines, ranging from warfare to military policing, among others.
“For those who come from America to train the Liberian military personnel, we have an MOU with the State of Michigan. The National Guard there has a special relationship with the Armed Forces of Liberia. This is a long term engagement. They have seen and are impressed with the development of Liberian soldiers,” he reported.
Amb. McCarthy meanwhile noted that both the AFL and other security personnel lack enough resource support to fight against crimes and ensure there is security for everyone in the country.
“We have seen that the AFL is doing well and they’re apolitical. The only concern is that they have very few resources to work with. They are under-resourced. The only thing the government can do is to increase the resource support to the AFL and all other national paramilitary forces in order to keep law and order,” he recommended.
The U.S. Ambassador acknowledged that the AFL is expected to conduct training based on the government's request that has already been approved by the Legislature. “That is a good step towards increasing manpower support to help beef the security of the country. We look forward to improving together,” he added.
The American Ambassador was accompanied by Col. Theophilus Dana, 23rd Infantry Brigade Commander of the AFL, Tibli Olandrus Dickson, deputy Defense Minister for Administration, as well two of his office’s staff and U.S. Marine personnel. Earlier, Lofa County Attorney, Cllr. J. Luther Sumo said he was impressed that the U.S. has not ceased to show its love for Liberia being stable and peaceful.
“As chairman of the joint security team for Lofa, I want to say thank you to the American people for all they continue to do in helping us maintain our peace. We are doing well and, unlike Monrovia and other parts of Liberia, Lofa is not experiencing all of the panics about alleged ritualistic killings or whatsoever. Our borders are well secured and we are grateful to the men and women in uniform,” Cllr. Sumo said.
He said he was impressed that the U.S. Ambassador acknowledged that Monrovia alone is not Liberia but all of the Counties, quarters and regions of the country’s 43,000 square-mile land space.
“We would have loved seeing you visiting the central parts of Voinjama and having a taste of the torborgee (country soda) and sweet palm wine. However, we look forward to your next visit for more, better interactions,” he told the U.S. Ambassador and team.
Dickson, Deputy Defense Minister for Administration (DDMA), said the Defense Ministry is happy that the people of Lofa are happy and safe. “We are happy for the rousing welcome from the people of Lofa. This is just among the many supports we receive from our people as we discharge our duties and responsibilities. “I’m grateful to the U.S. Embassy. Had it not been for them, I don’t know how we could have reached here in minutes. I have been out of this place for over 25 years,” Deputy Minister Dickson said.
According to him, the Ministry of Defense is doing all it can always to ensure that the people of Lofa and all across the country have access to their military.
“Lofa County is a strategic place, considering its economic viability and bordering Guinea and Sierra Leone. This is why, when the situation developed in Guinea, we had to quickly respond by providing additional military manpower support to ensure our borders are secured,” he said. “We are happy to see the continuous and cordial collaboration among the various security architectures. The idea of joint security operations is working very well in our country and we want to say kudos to the men and women in uniform and the NSA. It’s our hope that joint security continues to provide our civilian population the hope and access to free movement.”