‘AFL Capable of Maintaining Peace’

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The Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has assured Liberians and foreign residents that the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) are prepared to and capable of maintaining the country’s peace after UNMIL shall have finally left the country.

“From the composition of the army, it obviously indicated that Liberia now has a force for good that is always ready and prepared to defend the country’s democratic gains and support development,” C-I-C Sirleaf said.

The President’s assurance was contained in her final AFL Day message, marking the 60th Armed Forces Day, held at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia. The program brought together several dignitaries, among them government officials, dean and members of the diplomatic corps.

According to the President, as the army remains a small-sized force, the government is proud of its tactical and technical proficiencies that its mission demands.

“Today, our AFL is a ‘Force for Good,’ always ready and prepared to defend our democratic gains and support our development efforts,” the President reechoed.

The 60th anniversary of AFL Day, the President said, was set aside to honor the gallant men and women in the army who chose to defend the country, adding, “It has indeed been the ultimate privilege and highest honor of my public service to serve as C-I-C of the AFL.”

She said the new army started from a “very humble beginning” in 2006, after a stringent vetting and recruiting process that ended with the recruitment of 106 young men and women who were initially trained and sworn to serve the country.

After 11 years, C-I-C Sirleaf said, the Armed Forces now have the numerical strength of about 2,200 personnel, professionally trained in their various military occupational specialties.

The President reported that the army is serving abroad with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, “flying our flag in the dangerous desert region of Timbuktu and affirming our nation’s steadfastness to regional peace and security.”

She paid recognition to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for their partnership and assistance in building the unique capabilities of the AFL, which is also serving at the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and is present at the Mano River Union Secretariat under the entity’s security protocol.

“When called to duty, the AFL has risen to the occasion regardless of time, location, situation or condition. During the hectic days of the Ebola epidemic’s uncertainty, you were once again called to duty to support our efforts in defeating Ebola, and we learned the lessons of civilian-military collaboration,” President Sirleaf said.

She recalled that during the turbulent days of disturbances along the southeastern border area, the AFL went in defense of “our sovereignty and successfully launched ‘Operation Restore Hope,’ which brought calm and sanity along the Liberian and Ivorian border areas.”

“We are grateful to our other partners for their critical support, for the training and other military cooperation which have helped to build the efficiency and capabilities of the AFL,” she said.

She thanked all of the country’s partners, stating that it was through their support “we have built a vibrant military that is capable of executing various operations in maintaining the peace and stability in post UNMIL environment. We expect that the spirit of public trust and confidence in our security sector will continue beyond UNMIL’s transition.”

She said, “Now that enormous achievements have been made in our security and defense sector reform programs, we can look to the future with renewed confidence in maintaining the peace we enjoy.”

The President said the Liberia National Police and other security agencies will have primary responsibility of providing security during the voter registration and election, and they will have the fullest support of government.

To the military families, the President said: “Your support to our men and women in arms are clear manifestation of your commitment in maintaining stability at home as they defend our home-front, and participate in peacekeeping operations abroad.

“I will continue to serve you and support the fulfillment of our national obligations to you and your families. Indeed it has been an exceptional honor and a remarkable journey of constitutional privilege to serve you as your Commander-In-Chief.”

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