Authorities at the Ministry of National Defense have begun seeking assistance from their U.S. mentors as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) prepares to depart.
While expressing appreciation to members of Operation Onwards Liberty (OOL) and the Michigan National Guard for their “great roles continually being played in the remaking of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)”, Acting Defense Minister, Joseph Johnson is at the same time, seeking for assistance to build the AFL’s capacity.
“Operation Onward Liberty,” which began January 1, 2010, is a U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense initiative designed to continue the United States' support to the Government of Liberia and its ongoing efforts to transform its military. It is a five-year commitment of continued support and partnership with mentors cycling through on six-month temporary duty assignments and some service members electing to do year-long assignments.
OOL is also a U.S. military-led team which mentors and advises the AFL to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law, and is a force for good among Liberians.
Its goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively provide and contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
With that in mind, Mr. Johnson recalled how before, during and after the Ebola pandemic, the personnel of the U.S. Army were involved in so many ways with the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The Acting Minister who is Deputy Minister for Administration expressed gratitude for all the training received by personnel of the Ministry of Defense and the AFL over the years from their U.S. partners. “I hope that those training opportunities can be localized and look forward to more unified interactions between the Michigan National Guard and the AFL,” the Acting Minister reiterated.
He also thanked the OOL for its pre-deployment training given Liberian troops deployed as part of MINUSMA, in the West African State of Mali.
Besides, Minister Johnson appealed for capability enhancement of the Liberia Coast Guard (LCG) to deter and prohibit illegal activities along the country’s coastal waters.
He further appealed for logistical support aimed at upgrading the Engineering Company of the AFL to at least a battalion size to robustly participate in civil-related operations around the country.
Minister Johnson made the statement on Wednesday May 13 when a six-member U.S. delegation headed by Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard, Maj/Gen. Greg Vadnais, paid the Acting Defense Minister a courtesy visit at his Barclay Training Center (BTC) office in Monrovia.
Maj/Gen. Vadnais expressed gratitude to Liberians for the support rendered to U.S. troops that were involved with the fight that kicked Ebola transmission out of the country.
“Future areas of emphasis will be in civil military relations which are important for collaboration between the civilian population and the AFL,” Maj/Gen. Vadnais assured.
He reaffirmed the Michigan National Guard’s commitment to continue its partnership with the AFL. “The national intention of this partnership is to see enduring peace in Liberia,” he emphasized.
During the courtesy visit, Maj/Gen. Vadnais was presented a Distinguished Service Medal awarded him for his service to the AFL through the Michigan National Guard during the February 11, 2015 Armed Forces Day celebration.