Vice President Joseph Nyumai Boakai, Sr. has described the conduct of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) as “professional,” which depicts the various levels of training they have received over the years.
According to V.P. Boakai, the comportment of the soldiers indicates that Liberia has transformed from a pariah state to join in the restoration of peace and stability in other brotherly West African nations.
He recalled how the process of restructuring the AFL began in 2006, and was followed by a subsequent deployment of a platoon to the troubled West African State of Mali. There, he said, the soldiers maintained a high level of professionalism in the discharge of their assigned duties, thus making post-conflict Liberia proud of them. “We believe that you are truly a “Force for Good, members of the citizens’ army,". Boakai said.
The Vice President was speaking early Thursday, June 26, at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) where the Ministry of National Defense (MOD), in collaboration with the leadership of the AFL, held a joint ceremony commemorating the departure and arrival of the Liberian Peacekeeping Contingent to Mali.
Thursday’s ceremony featured the reading of the terms of the mission by Brigade Commander, Colonel Prince C. Johnson, III, following which VP Boakai along with Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., briefly inspected the departing troops, before the AFL Chaplain, Dessaline Allison, prayed for the contingent.
Army Chief of Staff (COS) Brigadier Daniel Dee Ziahnkan, Jr. was also Present at the ceremony along with family members of the departing soldiers.
The new Infantry Platoon, headed by Captain Ernest A. Appleton, departed the country for Mali after completing three months of pre-deployment training at the Armed Forces Training Command in Careysburg.
The pre-deployment training covered all aspects of tasks expected to be conducted during the tour of duty in Mali. It covered medical screening, and physical training, as well as courses in the Geo-Politics of Mali, International Humanitarian Law, Introduction to Patrol, Individual Soldier Task, Map Reading/Land Navigation, First Aid, Road Block, Cordon and Search, Ambush, VIP Escort, Control of IDPs, Urban Operations, Desert Warfare, Battle Drills, Offensive Operations and Combat/Operational Stress Control.
Shortly after the formal farewell ceremony at the RIA Terminal ‘B,’ the AFL platoon-size contingent boarded the waiting United Nations VQ-Bid 152 Boeing-737-400 aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Platoon-size of the AFL that departed the country last year for a peacekeeping mission in the West African State of Mali returned to Liberia Thursday to a rousing welcome ceremony at the RIA.
The return of the first Platoon of Liberian peacekeepers does not marke the end AFL peacekeeping missions, but brings to an end a year of peacekeeping duty for the first platoon, Minister Samukai said.
The returning soldiers, 46 in all, were the first post-war peacekeepers, and have served in the international peacekeeping mission in Mali with distinction, bringing pride to Liberia.
Therefore, the MOD has saluted those soldiers for a “job well done, and we want Liberians to know that they have flown the Liberian Flag very high on the international scene,” the Defense Minister added.
“We are very proud of their performance as they have demonstrated to the rest of the world that after years of civil conflict, something good can once again come from Liberia.”
Since its deployment to Mali on June 23, 2013, the AFL Platoon has over the past 12 months conducted several missions in and out of its assigned area of operations. Some of their accomplished missions included escort, vehicle and foot patrols, reconnaissance and other special assignments.
The most critical task undertaken by the AFL in its Peacekeeping duties was to provide security protection for a wide kilometer of areas far beyond its capacity for a period of 42 days after the pull out of Nigerian forces.
In line with the administrative mandate governing personnel serving in peacekeeping missions, the United Nations (UN), through the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), held a Medal Day Parade on June 6, 2014 in honor of the Liberian Platoon serving in Mali.