The Minister of National Defense, Brownie J. Samukai Jr., Thursday, March 27, hailed the government and people of the United States of America for the positive ties and their nonstop support to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) from the restructuring process in 2006 up to transformation, now in process.
Minister Samukai informed the visiting delegation that the AFL is currently carrying on its own recruitment and training exercises. The exercises, he said are being led by the very soldiers who were trained in the United States as part of the restructuring process of the AFL.
He explained that the AFL is being developed into a “citizens’ army,” under the theme: “A Force for Good.” The army—in the eyes of some—is itself shaping into what is beginning to look like a force that will perform well its part in the reconstruction phase of the country.
The Defense Minister made these representations Thursday at his Barclay Training Center (BTC) office when a high-powered U.S. Military delegation headed by Brigadier-General, James S. O’Meara, made a courtesy call on him.
B/Gen. O’Meara was accompanied to the Defense Ministry by Mr. Lee McTaggert, Col. Timothy D. Mitchell, Col. Bunn and Col. Lu Perozo.
“I am pleased with the United States Government's engagement with the AFL and the tremendous support it has received and enjoyed over the years—especially when it comes to the Coast Guard,” Samukai told the visitors.
Minister Samukai then expressed gratitude to the delegation for the visit, and praised the United States mentors that are assigned to AFL personnel, amid the restructuring process.
He also thanked the US Government for the one-year extension of “Operation Onward Liberty”—an exercise that provides some backup to soldiers of the AFL patrolling and protecting Liberia territorial borders, it has been suggested.
Minister Samukai further informed his visitors about progress made by the newly promoted leadership, given the new challenges they face. He emphasized the high level of cooperation existing amongst them in helping to maintain peace and security in Liberia.
Minister Samukai, has meanwhile stressed the need for more training for the AFL from the US Government with specific reference to land maneuvering, mobile training, training for the Coast Guard as well as for engineering, given the scheduled United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL.)
The US military delegation is in the country to reinforce bilateral relations at the senior Inter-Governmental level, to review United States support to Liberia, and to discuss issues of mutual interest.
For his part, B/Gen O’Meara extolled Minister Samukai for the level of progress made so far since the restructuring of the AFL began in 2006.
He assured authorities at the Ministry of National Defense of his government’s willingness to continue assisting Liberia in its recovery process.