A hierarchy of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) over the weekend graduated 154 recruits, who had completed four months advanced individual training (AIT) at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia at a brief and colorful ceremony.
The recruits were trained under the command of AFL training Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Theophilus A. Dana, following intensive processes that led to their enlistment into the military service.
Among the graduates, Privates Teddy N. Glaymein, Tenneh U. Flomo and Victor S. Tweh were honored with the Graduate, Leadership and Superior Physical Fitness Awards, respectively.
As part of the ceremony, AFL Chief of Staff (COS) Brigadier/General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Jr. and the AFL Training Commandant Lt/Col. Dana presented certificates to each of the graduates for successfully completing AFL Advanced Individual Training (AIT), conducted by the AFL Training Command during the later part of 2015 thru January 15, 2016.
The recruitment and training of the new soldiers, according to Brig/Gen. Ziankahn, became necessary to augment the strength of the AFL in the wake of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown from the country by the middle of the year.
On April 2, last year, the United Nations Security Council resolved to resume the phased withdrawal of the UNMIL. The decision highlights the Council’s confidence in Liberia both to continue the job it has done, and to build on the progress made since the deployment of the peacekeeping mission at the end of the civil war in 2003.
In March, the government approved a detailed security transition plan that will enable the country to assume full responsibility for all facets of its security by June 30, 2016, the deadline set by the Security Council.
Prepared in close consultation with UNMIL and other stakeholders, the plan sets clear benchmarks for Liberian authorities to take over all security responsibilities still performed by UNMIL — such as providing a presidential guard and safely disposing of unexploded ordnance from the war. The plan is closely linked with UNMIL’s own drawdown, but it is less about replacing the UNMIL presence and more about addressing the challenges of maintaining security, peace and access to justice in post-war Liberia.
With those challenges in mind, Brig/Gen. Ziankahn informed the 154 ‘new soldiers’ of their obligation to citizens, assuring that the army is fully prepared to provide security for the State when UNMIL shall have departed.
He said as UNMIL draws down, the nation is looking up to the national army to fill in the gap that would be created in the security sector by providing security for the citizenry.
“I say yes to those wondering as to whether we are up to the task to properly take charge of this nation after UNMIL shall have left,” Ziankahn said.
Himself having graduated from the AIT seven years ago, Ziankahn lauded the graduates for their courage. He however noted that more still needs to be done as the citizenry look up to the ‘new soldiers’ to provide security to the country after UNMIL departure.
The AIT, among other trainings, included individual movement techniques, squad and platoon battle drill tactics, etc.
The 154 soldiers were part of 168 Liberians recruited for service in the AFL in October 2015.