The President of the Liberia National Bar Association, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, has described the Armed Forces of Liberian (AFL) as a trustworthy force, having gained more public confidence more than the para-military forces including the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Giving a brief narrative of his temporary but quite interesting time with the AFL through some observations about its past and present history, Cllr. Gongloe said that the AFL has transcended from a brutal force to an incrementally disciplined and professional force over the years.
“Let me quickly say that my general observation and the observations of many critical Liberian thinkers that I have spoken to is that the armed forces, for more than a decade, has been incrementally disciplined and more professional that it is now trusted by the public more than the para-military forces,” the legal pundit stated.
The post-war AFL has been overseen and heavily supported by the United States Government; something that has contributed to its professionalism, thus making it different from the pre-war AFL that is recorded for committing atrocities and other human rights abuses during the Samuel Doe Administration.
“Today, we are all proud of the performance of the men and women of the Armed Forces as part of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Mali,” he submitted.
The LNBA’s President made the assertion on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, when he served as keynote speaker of the 64th Armed Forces Day Symposium which took place at Ministerial Complex.
Panelists for the symposium mostly came from the government, diplomatic sector, civil society, and international partners to discuss the topic “Enhancing Military and Legislative Interaction in a Democracy: Liberia in Perspective”.
While focusing on the theme of the symposium, he urged the military to stay out of politics and let the politicians make whatever mistake they can make. Cllr Gongloe further suggested that the military could play a leading role to reverse the increasing level of food insecurity in our country.
The symposium, which also brought together members from the various security institutions including the AFL and experts to discuss topics for the development of the Armed Forces of Liberia, was held under the theme: “The Military in Sustaining Democracy.”
“The military with the support of the legislature should expand the scope of the military’s role of providing for our collective security, beyond protecting us from invasions from across our borders to our collective security from hunger,” he emphasized.
The LNBA President has also called on the Armed Forces of Liberia to form a robust agricultural battalion to find ways to solve Liberia’s collective food insecurity problem.
Cllr. Gongloe said the military could play a lead role in solving the country’s food insecurity problem by focusing its attention on agriculture through the formation of a robust agriculture battalion.
“The level of discipline that exists in the military makes it ideal for leading our national effort to overcome our food insecurity problem,” Cllr. Gongloe said, according to a Ministry of National Defense press release.
The Liberian legal luminary called on the Legislature to make adequate budgetary appropriation to strengthen the Armed Forces of Liberia. Cllr. Gongloe further asserted that the Liberian Government must also provide more incentives for entrepreneurs that want to venture into food production.
He urged the government to use the process of eminent domain to get land for such an agriculture program. “The Government of Liberia should identify huge parcels of farmland in each county and make them available to the military to produce food for Liberia,” declaring further, “As a nation, we cannot make progress if we cannot produce most of the food that we eat.”
He said the engagement of the military in food production would also provide opportunities for civilian jobs for agricultural school students, graduates and graduates from TVET programs in the operation and repairs of farming machines, and other logistical and administrative services. “It can be done once there is a political will,” he maintained.
More U S Support for AFL
Meanwhile, the newly-accredited US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, has renewed his government’s continuous support to the AFL in making the force more relevant to the people of Liberia.
Amb. McCarthy said his government will continue to partner with the Ministry of National Defense and the AFL, stressing that, “It is a pleasure to work along with a partner like you because it makes the work easier.”
“It is an inspiration that Liberia has come so far in the understanding of peacekeeping that Liberia is today a contributing nation to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations around Africa,” Amb. McCarthy added.
The Ambassador made the statement when he paid a courtesy call on Liberia’s Defense Boss, Major General Daniel D. Ziankahn, Jr., (Rtd.), at the Barclay Training Center a few days before the symposium.
For his part, Minister Ziankahn assured the U S Government of enhanced partnership in sustaining Liberia’s Defense sector.
The Defense Boss appreciated the United States Government for her increased support to the Armed Forces of Liberia peacekeeping operations. He particularly praised the leadership role being demonstrated by the U.S. Government, emphasizing that, “We will do everything possible to get to where we are to get as partners.”
The Defense Minister indicated that the US Government continues to play a vital role in training, equipping and mentoring personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia and staffers of the Ministry of National Defense.
He said, “We are committed partners based on a deeper root with the United States of America. The U S Government has been working on lots of projects that have rejuvenated the Armed Forces of Liberia to a ‘force for good’.”
At the same time, the Government of the United States of America has stepped up its budget support by 25% to the AFL, which will now enable the AFL to send 40-45 soldiers to the United States for military studies under the International Military Training Program.
Personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia and Defense staff have benefited from US training programs at various U.S. Military institutions in the United States of America and other training programs around the world.
The United States Government has been very supportive in the growth and development of the new Liberian army by the provision of specialized training opportunities for the new military.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of Liberia has been admitted into the ElsieFund. The ElsieFund is geared towards supporting more women’s participation in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and is in support.