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Special Feature

A eulogy to regenerated Armed Forces of Liberia

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is a defense and development an institution of the state that has metamorphosed into an entity which is garnering respect and credibility both locally and internationally, principally on the basis of the quality of trainings being provided to its personnel and the competence of individuals being enlisted within its ranks.

Originally named the Liberia Frontier Force (LFF) at its establishment in 1908, the Liberian Army comprised 500 men whose mission was to patrol the borders of the hinterland and ward off British and French territorial enlargement as well as to prevent disorder. The Liberia Frontier Force became the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in 1956.

Following its establishment, the AFL saw little action, apart from a reinforced company sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1960s, which changed at the advent of the Liberian Civil War in 1989 when the AFL became entangled in the conflict that spiraled over the period from 1989 to 2003. Following its demobilization in 2003, The AFL is being restructured and reclassified.

Today, a new 2000-strong AFL is being built under the auspices of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) program. With support from the international community, particularly the United States and United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building efforts, Liberia has rebuilt a new, ethnically balanced and professional army;

Liberia can now boast a 1,980-person-strong Armed Forces of Liberia which now positions itself to support a democratic environment through strategic and practical proficiencies with a robust capacity to defend the territorial integrity of Liberia. Currently, the newly rehabilitated Training Command of the Armed Forces of Liberia, headquartered at Camp Todee has assumed responsibility for tactical and proficiency training locally.

The facility is presently training 140 new army recruits, which is expected to be increased by some 400 recruits recently vetted and endorsed by the Joint Personnel Board of the AFL. The AFL currently consists of two infantry battalions, and a small Liberian National Coast Guard, which is being reformed.

In her State of the Nation Address delivered at the joint sitting of the Liberian Legislature in January this year, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf intimated her desire to install, after confirmation consideration by the Liberian Senate, a Liberian Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff and Brigade Commander of the AFL at the celebration of Armed Forces Day on February 11, 2014 bidding farewell to Major General Suraj Alao Abdurrahman who has served the AFL as Command Officer-In-Charge since June 2007.

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The President subsequently nominated the Brigade Commander of the AFL, Col. Daniel Dee Ziankhan, and Col, Eric Dennis as Chief-of-Staff and Deputy Chief-Of-Staff of the AFL, Respectively. In a letter addressed to the Liberian Senate, President Sirleaf said the officers have met all the requirements necessary, including advance and strategic training at various military institutions, and their deportment and discipline have been highly commended by the country’s international partners involved in restructuring of the AFL.

Following its restructuring, the Armed Forces of Liberia In 2013, was proud to contribute an infantry platoon-size unit to join the Africa International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), making it the first time that our Armed Forces is participating in international  peacekeeping operations in 52 years. The last time the AFL participated in an enterprise of similar scope was in the early 1960s in Congo.

Initially under Nigerian command, the AFL platoon in Mali came under Togolese Contingent Command when Nigeria withdrew from the mission. Despite some initial logistical problems the platoon performed admirably, performing patrols and VIP escort duties. The AFL has also been contributing to upholding peace and security in the country as well as assisting in warding off insurgency in neighboring Ivory Coast and other countries in the Mano River Union Basin.

On a regular basis, the military is seen performing clean-up activities in the city of Monrovia and outlying communities in an effort to effectively contribute to the process of making the City a place of social comfort. These efforts of the Armed Forces have created integrity and public confidence within the AFL whose reputation was soiled as a result of its role in the more than 14 years of patricidal civil conflict in Liberia.

It is worth noting that authorities of the AFL are continuously exerting efforts towards recruiting to the Army individuals with impeccable character with the ultimate goal of ensuring that enlistment within the military would harness and uphold the current state of public trust within the institution in our nation’s quest to make the Armed Forces of Liberia second to none on the continent of Africa and one of the best in the world.

Therefore, as we celebrate the 106 years of existence of the Armed Forces of Liberia (1908-2014) and the 57th Anniversary of the Armed Forces of Liberia, we should lift our heads up high in giving accolades to our rejuvenated AFL because through it all, we now have a capable, gallant, nationally and internationally representative ARMED FORCES OF LIBERIA!!!

By Joey T. Kennedy; +231-594-158; josephtnkennedy@yahoo.com

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