General Ziankahn at the same time outlined what he considered his vision for the army in the coming years.
His expression of regret and unveiling of his vision was contained in his press brief note yesterday for the first time since he assumed the leadership of the force.
His maiden press briefing was held in the compound of the Ministry of National Defense (MOD) at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) on UN Drive in Monrovia. The briefing ceremony was attended by several high ranking soldiers and their mentors.
Prior to unveiling his vision, Brig/Gen Ziankahn described the recent West Point incident as the most unfortunate and highly regrettable situation the soldiers have encountered with the civilian population since the force was rebranded in 2006.
He disclosed the constitution of an AFL Disciplinary Board for those found culpable in keeping with the recommendations from the BOI report.
The Chief of Staff then promised to implement the BOI’s recommendations, particularly that concerning the involvement of AFL soldiers found culpable by the board, in keeping with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Following the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), the President and C-I-C Sirleaf, on August 19, directed that West Point in Monrovia and Dolo’s Town in Margibi County be quarantined. The C-I-C’s directive came at the time when these communities were suspected of keeping in their homes people suspected of being afflicted with the EVD.
In compliance with the C-I-C’s directive, the Joint Task Force, including the AFL, officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) and BIN were immediately deployed in these communities. It was following this deployment that law and order got out of hand, whilst the quarantine order was in place. The melee that ensued resulted to injuries of some members of the security forces and civilians.
The shooting that ensued also led to the subsequent death of a 16-year old Shaki Kamara. He reportedly died of injuries sustained in the process.
The C-I-C consequently set-up a BOI to unravel circumstances that led to the incident consisting of high level security personnel, including those from U.S. Defense Advisory Department and the ECOWAS Advisory Training Team.
In line with the BOI’s recommendations, C-I-C Sirleaf ordered COS Ziankahn to institute all necessary disciplinary actions.
As for his vision, COS Ziankahn perceived the AFL as a force that should inspire the confidence and trust of the Liberian people. It should also be a force that is compassionate.
“My vision for the AFL stems from lessons learnt from our immediate and past history. In keeping with the maxim that experience is the best teacher, I perceive the AFL to be a force that smiles when the good people of Liberia are smiling and at the same time feel the pains of the people too.”
Gen. Ziankahn also visualized the AFL as an Armed Force that earns the respect of the people through professionalism, adequate motivation and respect for the rule of law.
“Simply put, my vision for the AFL is to lead a robust, disciplined, effective Armed Force, with clear ideas of its Constitutional and statutory role, respected by the people and highly motivated to accomplish its responsibilities within the framework of the law.”
According to him, his mission and goals compel him to remain relentless, and his actions channeled to actualize his vision.
The Chief of Staff has assured the public that he will strive to ensure that the AFL continues make a positive impact on the lives of the average Liberian as a “Force for good.”