The Chief of Staff (COS) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Brigadier/General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, has commended the government, individual family members of soldiers that are serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for the level of support to the Liberian contingent (LIBBATT 1 and 2) since they were deployed.
Gen. Ziankahn’s commendation was in brief remarks he made during a program marking the observance of this year’s Medal Day Parade held on June 19, , in Timbuktu, northern Mali.
The ceremony was highlighted by the awarding of UN Medals to the officers and men of LIBBATT 2, commanded by Captain Ernest Appleton.
A military medal day parade is a prestigious ceremony that has over the years immensely raised peacekeepers’ morale as they contribute to peace and tranquility in the mission.
The medals are in recognition of an individual soldier’s service and sacrifice.
According to the COS, since the deployment of the platoon-size soldiers to the troubled West African State of Mali about two years ago, the level of support from the government as well as individual family members of the contingent has been overwhelming, and contributed significantly to the high morale among themselves.
In his welcome remarks earlier, Brigadier/General Sidiki Daniel Traore, Commander of Sector West said the AFL appreciates exemplary contributions of contingent and individual soldiers in the execution of the MINUSMA mandate during their tour of duty.
Since the second batch of the Liberian Contingent was deployed to Mali last year and started their tour of duty, he said, they have contributed immensely to peacekeeping exercises.
“It is an honor for me to award you the UN Peacekeeping Medal in the name of the Force Commander/Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at this ceremony. The medal is in recognition of your contribution to peacekeeping as peacekeepers, and you richly deserved it, because the AFL has done much though there is still more to do,” Gen. Traore declared as he pinned each of the AFL soldiers with a medal.
He said MINUSMA is successful today despite its ups and downs, noting, “In the few years that we have been here in the mission area, we can say that we are quite successful, largely due to AFL contingent’s determination, dedication and professionalism.”
The Liberian Contingent was on the ground in the Mission area under AFISMA, which later transitioned to MINUSMA, but the Burkina Faso General believes that the AFL contribution has played a major role to the sector as well as to the mission as a whole.
As for the decision that none of the soldiers came home last year for a one month annual leave, Gen. Traore said he was aware that the soldiers were unable to come back home for their individual leave, “because of the Ebola situation, and I think that was a good decision from the AFL COS Gen. Ziankahn as the virus was claiming many lives at the time.”
“A soldier among you lost four members of his family, including his father and mother, yet could not go back home. Thank you for the resilience and focus and thank God that Liberia is now Ebola-free.”
Gen. Traore, therefore, expressed confidence that the next batch of the AFL contingent would follow the standards being set by their predecessors or even more.
He also said he was delighted that the Chief of Staff and members of the parliament were able to attend this year’s Medal Day ceremony in Timbuktu as it gives him the opportunity to express his appreciation for the considerable sacrifice made by each and every family through the absence from home for a period of one year.
In his remarks following the medal day ceremony, the chair on Defense, Intelligence and security, Senator Stephen J.H. Zargo, noted that his presence on the trip had given him a fair appreciation of
Liberia’s military in the restoration of peace and stability in Mali.
Senator Zargo then promised to provide a full “brief” to his committee members so as to make a determination aimed at further strengthening the logistical capability of the Liberian Defense Sector.
He lauded COS Ziankahn for the professionalism he continues to instill into the AFL.
Senator Zargo further commended the AFL platoon serving in MINUSMA for the professional manner in which they are contributing to the success of the Mali Mission.
For his part, the Co-chair of the House of Representative on Defense, Intelligence and Security, Lester Paye, assured COS Ziankahn of the AFL that his (Rep. Paye’s) impression about the role of the Liberian Contingent in Mali will be translated into a “comprehensive brief” to other members of the Committee in order to solicit additional support for the enhancement of the AFL for inter-operational activities and to be able to effect multitasks simultaneously.