The Barclay Training Center (BTC) on UN Drive will on Tuesday, February 11, witness activities marking this year’s Armed Forces Day celebration.
The event marks the 57th anniversary of the day, and 106th year of existence of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL); it dates back to 1908.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Governance Commission, Dr. Amos Sawyer, has been selected by the Ministry of National Defence (MOD) to serve as keynote speaker.
The day’s activities will focus on the theme, “Enhancing the Capabilities of the AFL to Meet Contemporary Challenges;” it will also be marked by other activities that are intended to make the program a memorable one.
A change of command ceremony will also be held, with the passing of an outgoing commander to an in-coming one; the presentation of the national colors will be involved.
In her recent Annual Message, the Commander-In-Chief, (C-I-C) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, mentioned that come February 11, the AFL will be placed in the hands of Liberians, who will serve as Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff respectively.
The expected COS takes over from a veteran Nigerian commanding officer-in-charge, Major-General Suraj A. Abdurrahman.
Meanwhile, agencies of government expected to participate alongside the AFL in the celebration on Tuesday, February 11, will include the Liberian National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia National Fire Service, members of the Executive Protection Service, the Drugs Enforcement Agency, National Scouts Association and other privately-owned security apparatus.
Pre-celebration activities for the occasion will begin on Thursday, February 6, with a symposium at the Monrovia City Hall. “Interagency Cooperation: Fundamental Necessity for the Security of Liberia.” The symposium will also be addressed by Dr. Sawyer.
On Friday, February 7, the army will hold a Jummat Service (a Moslem religious service) at the Gurley Street Mosque; it will be followed on Saturday with a clean-up campaign exercise and a medical outreach in the Township of West Point.
The West Point activities will accordingly be climaxed with an all-female sporting fiesta between the AFL and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).
In addition, there will a mini knockout Olympic at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville, bringing face-to-face four football teams including the AFL, the Liberia Broadcasting System, the Liberia National Police, and the Police force of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
These activities will climax on Sunday, February 9, with a thanksgiving and intercessory prayer service at the Philadelphia Central Church on Tubman Boulevard in Cong Town.
AFL’s Historical Highlights
An Act of Legislature, passed February 6, 1908, established the Liberian Army under the name “Liberian Frontier Police Force.” A year later, the Act was amended and the army was renamed the Liberian Frontier Force with a total strength of only 600 officers and enlisted men, who wore short khaki trousers, red waistband, and caps, but no shoes. They were then commanded by foreigners, particularly British and Sierra Leonean officers.
However, like the Constitution of Liberia itself, the idea to celebrate the Armed Forces Day was again borrowed from the United States of America (USA), where the then Secretary of Defence, Louise Johnson announced the creation of the day.
Also, in 1954, Colonel Francis M. Dean (Liberian), then Assistant Chief of Staff responsible for intelligence (G-2), conceived the idea and recommended in his annual message that a single-day be set aside each year to be celebrated as the Armed Forces Day.
It was based on this that on January 26, 1957, the Liberian Legislature passed an Act, setting aside February 11 each year as Armed Forces Day; it did so in recognition of the “bravery and meritorious” service of troops that brought down the so-called, army mutiny on February 11, 1909.
This Act further provides that past and present members of the Army, Navy (Coast Guard), and Air Force be also honoured on this day.