The Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has challenged the three newly inducted leaders of the force to take on the responsibility of being robust, disciplined and equipped in their duties of operations while heading a professional military.
C-I-C Sirleaf’s admonition came against the backdrop of the Liberian military once being considered as part of the country’s political woes. This negative image was maintained until the signing of the Accra Peace Accord in 2003.
The Liberian leader told the AFL that its leadership must exhibit commitment to duty, obedience, and loyalty to the constituted authority.
President Sirleaf spoke shortly after she inducted three young AFL soldiers as Chief of Staff (COS), Deputy COS and the Commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade respectively. Those installed by the C-I-C were: Col. Daniel Dee Ziankhan, as the new COS; Eric W. Dennis, as Deputy COS; and Prince Charles Johnson, III, Brigade Commander, 23rd Infantry Brigade.
By this induction, Chief of Staff Ziankhan now gets a higher rank of Brigadier General, according to our Defense Correspondent.
According to the Liberian leader, the induction of the Liberian trio was an indication the new AFL is ready to take over the nation’s security sector following the gradual drawdown of peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Addressing hundreds of military personnel and other dignitaries Tuesday, February 11, at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia, the Liberian leader indicated that the country expected nothing less from the newly inducted leadership of the AFL than the demonstration of their capabilities and commitment displaying their readiness to lead the army in a positive direction to protect and defend the territorial borders of the country.
President Sirleaf then acknowledged the enormous contributions made by the outgoing COS of the AFL, MajGen. Suraj Alao Abdurrahman, for his services rendered to the AFL, especially during the successfully implemented “Operation Restore Hope, parts I, II, and III,” at the various border entry points throughout the country.
Operation Restore Hope became necessary when suspected armed ‘bandits’ tried to used Liberian soil to launch attacks on neighboring La Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 following controversial presidential elections in that country.
At the same time, the Liberian leader thanked the Governments of the USA, the People’s Republic of China, Ghana, and Nigeria, among others, for their help and support with the restructuring of the AFL to the level it has attained to date.
“These foreign partners contributed a lot to the capacity building and support of our national army,” President Sirleaf added.
For his part, the Minister of National Defense, Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., remembered that two years ago upon the request of President Sirleaf, the AFL successfully executed a mission to the North East and South Eastern regions of the country under the operation “Restore Hope parts I, II and III” aimed at protecting Liberian borders against armed aggression and restoring the confidence of that area by making sure they (borders) remained safe and secured.
According to Minister Samukai, the result of that successful mission led by the AFL along the border area became a litmus test of the quality of training that the partners have impacted. It also displayed the preparedness of the new AFL to execute any function that may be required in the future.
He disclosed among other things that in June, 2013, an enhanced platoon of the AFL formed part of the African-led Peacekeeping Mission to Mali (AFISMA), which he said, were doing ‘pretty well’ in keeping with their assigned Standard Operations Procedures (SOP).
“Today, our AFL platoon is operating alongside a Togolese Battalion and deployed 410 kilometers North of Bamako in the desert area of Diabili. They are joining in the international fight against terrorist and gangs of marauding extremists.”
He then reported to C-I-C Sirleaf those currently serving in the new AFL are being given benefits when they retire after at least 20 years of service in the force.