Two officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), 2nd Lieutenants Jerreck Jeff Dwanah, Jr., and Varney A. Sirleaf, have been trained as the first post-war certified commercial pilots as they were winged on yesterday at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters in Abuja, an AFL release has said.
According to the release, the winging ceremony climaxed two and half years of training at the Nigerian International Aviation College in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
Upon their return to Liberia, the two officers will pioneer the establishment of the Liberia Air Wing.
The Minister of National Defense, retired Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Jr., extended gratitude on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the AFL President George Weah and lauded the people and Government of Nigeria for the many sacrifices they continue to make in resuscitating Liberia to a peaceful country after a 14-year civil crisis.
Ziankahn acknowledged the role Nigerian government played in the restructuring process of the post-war AFL, which saw the seconding of two of its Major Generals, the late Maj/Gen Luka N. Yusu and the late Maj/Gen Suraj A. Abdurrahman, who served subsequently as Command Officer-in-Charge of the AFL during its re-branding process and progressively brought the AFL to where it is as a professional army dubbed a “Force for Good.”
Minister Ziankahn hailed the long-standing bilateral ties between Liberia and Nigeria that resulted to the promotion of cultural, diplomatic and military relationships.
“We are humbly soliciting for the training of air and ground crew when the Liberia Air Wing is eventually established. We will require your support, guidance and mentor-ship to establish and operate the Liberia Air Wing,” Minister Ziankahn said.
It can be recalled that on August 23, 2007, the Governments of Liberia and Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for military-to-military relations to rebuild the professional development of the AFL.
In the MoU, the two officers were part of eight cadets that departed Liberia in 2007 to undergo a four-year regular combatant degree course at the prestigious Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna.
They commenced their pilot training at the Nigerian Air Force 301 Flying Training School in Kaduna,
following their graduation as members of 60th Regular Course from the Nigerian Defense Academy in September, 2013.
Upon completion of their training, the Liberian government appealed for further training. This appeal subsequently saw their enrollment at the Nigerian International Aviation College in IIorin, Kwara State.
According to the 2008 New Defense Act, section 5.1, the Liberia Air Wing, when activated, will undertake search and rescue missions; provide limited air transportation for the movement of troops and logistics for the AFL; undertake medical evacuation; undertake limited marine patrol over Liberia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and assist those ministries and agencies in times of emergency and natural or man-made disasters, as well as assist in evacuation and logistics movement.