Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has said the pension account of the Ministry of National Defense which currently stands at US$1 million, suggests the need to expand the amount to at least US$3 million within the next decade.
“The welfare of our soldiers remains a key priority and we are committed to the pension policy as its implementation will ensure that military personnel have some level of income protection in addition to their pension benefits after their military services expire,” Minister Samukai contended.
He made the proposal during the 59th anniversary of the Armed Forces of Liberia held last Thursday at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.
This year’s Armed Forces Day was celebrated under the theme, “Military Support to Civil Authority in a Post-UNMIL Environment.”
The numerical strength of the new army has reportedly suffered attrition due to prolonged absences without leave (AWOL), dismissal of soldiers for “violation of military orders,” deaths, etc.
Minister Samukai, however, lauded the demonstration of capacity by the forces’ training command under the AFL Training Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Theophilus A. Dana Jr., for recently graduating 154 newly-trained soldiers.
He disclosed that a nationwide recruitment exercise is currently underway in the mid-term of preparation for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) transition as the AFL prepares to assume full security responsibilities.
Samukai further assured the public that the AFL will continue to “be a force for good,” defend the territorial integrity of the nation through its participation in national reconstruction and outreach activities, and contribute to regional and international peace.
On the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the donation of 22 military trucks and two motor graders valued at over US$3 million, Minister Samukai recalled the PRC’s initial donation of engineering equipment valued at US$4 million.
He also disclosed the signing of a letter of agreement with the United States government for 17 tactical military vehicles along with spare parts valued at US$3 million, noting that the U.S has already donated two speed boats for use by the AFL Coast Guard Company.
Minister Samukai further reported the construction of two new annexes for the newly-named Linda Thomas Greenfield Preparatory Elementary and Junior High School, which was initiated under the supervision of engineers of the Michigan National Guard and the AFL at the Edward Binyan Kesselly (EBK) Military Barracks in Shefflein Town, Lower Margibi, as among many contributions of the American government to the AFL.
According to him, as of February 11, UNMIL will in the next 140 days be scaling down its troops to turn over security responsibilities to Liberia, noting that the morale of the AFL is high for the task.