“Welfare of Men and Women of AFL Remains a Top Priority of My Gov’t”

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President George M. Weah, Commander-in-Chief, AFL, making remarks during the 64th Armed Forces Day celebration. (Photo: Executive Mansion)

-President Weah says, reaffirms Commitment to Strengthen AFL Capacity, Provide Support

The President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), George M. Weah, says the welfare of the men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia remains a top priority of his Government. 

President Weah made the assertion on Thursday February 11, 2021 during the program marking the 64th Armed Forces Day celebration, held at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) on the UN Drive in central Monrovia, under the theme: “The Military in Sustaining Democracy.”

“As Commander-in-Chief, I reaffirm my commitment to strengthening their capacity and supporting their response capabilities to deal with other national emergencies,” President Weaah said.

President Weah said his government will continue to ensure that the living conditions of the soldiers reflect standard of services they deliver to the nation.

“We will also ensure that renovation work at major military facilities are completed to de-congest the over-crowdedness at the Edward B. Kesselley barracks and other military facilities currently in use, while at the same time improve basic social services at these facilities so that our soldiers can live comfortably with their families,” President Weah said.

He said the men and women in arms are an important pillar of the national security architecture, while calling on them to always demonstrate professionalism and integrity as the People’s Army, thereby strengthening the respect and trust that you deserve from your fellow Liberians.

The Liberian leader noted that because of the robust support provided by the Armed Forces, Liberia is one of the countries with the lowest number of cases and deaths from the Coronavirus.

“The Armed Forces of Liberia will continue to support the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, while maintaining discipline and professional competence to accomplish their national mandate,” President Weah said.

The Armed Forces Day, a day set aside to celebrate Men and Women in Arms for the many sacrifices they make in protecting Country, and also to remember our fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate price in defense of this Nation.

He said this theme reflects the critical role that the Armed Forces play in support of the democratic values and in defense of the freedoms that Liberians enjoy, stating “through their selfless service, these gallant Men and Women in Arms provide the enabling environment in which peace and stability can be maintained, and development and progress can be attained.”

President Weah indicated that the military has developed into a force with the requisite training, professional competence, regimentation, and discipline to execute their Constitutional mandate, and Liberians are proud of them.

“Our Armed Forces are recognized as a Force for Peace, as is evident by their maintenance of a perfect peace since the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). In addition, our military is serving with the United Nations Mission in Mali to restore peace, and they have been recognized and commended for their discipline, training, and fitness to serve.  In just a few years, Liberia has been transformed from a country which required peacekeepers, to a country which provides peacekeepers,” President Weah.

According to President Weah, the AFL is also an important participant in the implementation of my Government’s development agenda, the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD). 

He said AFL has played a frontline role in different development initiatives across the country, ranging from construction works on the 14th Military Hospital, collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works on road repairs and rehabilitation, and renovation of houses in our barracks around the country.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I envisage the expansion of their participation to other key areas of national development.  Through the Minister of Defense, I have instructed the deployment of the Engineering Company and the Agriculture Company into their respective areas of expertise to further support the efforts of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.

President and First Lady Weah, VP Howard Taylor, Joint Security heads and foreign military attachés at Liberia’s 64th Armed Forces Day celebration. (Photo: Executive Mansion)

President Weah said the Engineering Company, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works, will conduct an assessment for the implementation of quick impact strategic interventions on roads throughout Liberia that are critical to the survival of our people.

He said this will facilitate movement of our citizens and enable our farmers have access to markets during the rainy season, thus reducing the high cost of locally-grown commodities.

According to him, this partnership will harness the potential of the Engineering Company of the AFL to ensure the timely completion of this task.

President Weah said the threat of food insecurity continues to pose a challenge to national security, stating “that is why we must leverage the potential of our Military to undertake the supplemental production of rice and other basic vegetables to meet local demand and reduce reliance on expensive imports.

“I have been informed by the Minister of National Defense that coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture is ongoing and there are plans to partner with the National Bureau of Veteran Affairs where the knowledge and skills of our veterans can be utilized,” he said. 

“Our troops also provide routine medical support to public health education, comprising family planning and HIV/AIDS awareness, and to communities and areas within the vicinities of their barracks. They have also been part of the first response during emergency and disaster situations,” he said.

He said given the unique capabilities of the Armed Forces of Liberia, at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Liberia, I ordered the AFL, through the Minister of National Defense, to deploy members of the Medical Company to support our health care practitioners.

President Weah recognized and appreciated the efforts of Madam Clar Marie Decontee  Weah, First Lady of Liberia, who, out of her concern for the welfare of the men and women in arms, and mobilizing her own resources, has constructed a modern Vocational Training Center at the EBK military barracks for the Military wives of the AFL.

According to President Weah, this facility, which will be completed by the end of this month, will provide a purpose-built classroom building to allow military wives to train and study simultaneously with their children during the daytime, rather than having to wait until the children come home before using their school building in the evening. 

President Weah acknowledges the mentorship and assistance that the AFL has received from development partners in the form of direct financing and logistical support.

“We are grateful for the sustenance of our men and women in arms over the years. This training and critical support have helped build the credibility, efficiency and professionalism of our military as an effective Force for Peace,” he said.

He lauded the United States Government, the People’s Republic of China, the United Nations, and ECOWAS Mentors who supported the military’s efforts during the height of this pandemic.

Defense Minister Daniel Dee Ziankahn (Photo: Executive Mansion)

In other remarks, Maj/Gen. Daniel Dee Ziankahn (Rtd), Minister of National Defense, said the AFL has a unique opportunity to plan for the future and now is the time to build a military that will cater to the future needs of our country and a military that will continue to represent the admiration of the Liberian people.

“That is why we must ensure that budgetary allocations are made to begin the recruitment and training process. We also need to invest in infrastructure improvements at various military barracks to meet the accommodation needs of military personnel and their growing families, and provide the basic needs that reflect sustenance of our men and women in arms,” Minister Ziankahn said. 

He said the AFL is coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture to harness the potential of experts, and believes with the appropriate funding and support from the government of Liberia and our partners, the AFL can begin the production of rice and vegetables, while at the same time beefing up the readiness of our Engineering Company to undertake interventions on road projects per your directive.

Minister Ziankahn expressed gratitude to international partners, The United States, China, India, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, but most especially the United States Government out traditional partner. He continued: “We appreciate your continued support to our men and women in arms, particularly in the midst of this global pandemic.  We are grateful for your partnership over the years in strengthening the capacity of the AFL as a Force for Good and we will dare to defend.”

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