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AFL mobilizes response effort

Liberia’s Army Chief of Staff Brigadier General Prince C. Johnson says the military here is trying to come up with ways and means of getting partners’ support to achieve President George MannehWeah’s mandate for defense authorities to immediately develop a policy framework to reactivate the Armed Forces’ Agriculture Company.

“And then by that, we will be able to ask our partners to see how they can assist, like the Minister rightly said. So, sooner or later you will start to hear where [that support will] start to come from,” Gen. Johnson told a press conference Wednesday, 12 February in Monrovia.
“But we have already written down that strategic objective of our president, and sooner or later you will see the Armed Forces of Liberia moving forward concerning that,” he adds.

During the celebration of the 63rd Armed Forces Day, President Weah on Tuesday, 11 February instructed the Minister of National Defense and the Chief of Staff of the AFL to begin the immediate development of a policy framework for the reactivation of the Armed Forces Agriculture Company.

He also ordered that this should include the identification and assessment of all lands belonging to the Armed Forces of Liberia that are arable and feasible for agriculture productivity.

And Gen. Johnson’s comments to President Weah’s mandate come at a very important time of meeting with military officials of Liberia’s traditional ally, specifically the Michigan National Guard from the U.S. who have been assisting the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for more than a decade through a partnership.

Welcoming the delegation from the Michigan National Guard led by Brigadier General Katherine White at the Defense Ministry here, Gen. Johnson tells his counterparts that “This is a wonderful time for the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Ministry of Defense.”
He notes that the AFL has been in partnership with the Michigan National Guard for close to 10 plus years, since 2009.

“It shows how much our support from our traditional ally, our most important traditional ally the U.S. has supported this new Armed Forces of Liberia,” he continues.

Gen. Johnson says he always tells the Michigan National Guard whenever he sees its personnel that it is because of their taxpayers’ money that today the Armed Forces of Liberia is what it is.He also recognizes the leadership of regional bloc ECOWAS and other international partners that have supported the new AFL.

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Responding, Brigadier General Katherine White of the Michigan National Guard, thanks the Liberian military and defense officials for the invitation, saying she is honored to be representing the Michigan National Guard.She says she is so impressed by the AFL, commending the force for its strong sense of professionalism.

Gen. White recalls that the partnership between Liberia and Michigan started in 2009 with a simple exchange of ideas and experiences.According to her, they advise the AFL on basic military tasks and procedures such as how to organize basic military instructions.

Initially, she says AFL leaders did a lot of observing and asking questions, adding that the AFL and the Michigan National Guard have come a long way, building strong relationships which intend to grow.

As partners, Gen. White says the Michigan National Guard has moved from observing and advising to conducting about 11 separate trainings.Further, she says she is excited that the AFL recognizes the need to utilize every human capital in the nation, in response to plans here by the AFL to encourage more female participation in the army.

Also speaking, Deputy Defense Minister for Administration Olandrus Dixon notes that Liberia has been beneficiary of the assistance provided by the Michigan National Guard, including the training opportunities given the men and women of the AFL, among others.

He notes that Liberia has an enduring relationship with the people of the United States and the Michigan National Guard, adding that the AFL will not be where it is without the support of the United States government.

“So again we are here on this day, it’s just to reaffirm that partnership,” he says, thanking the military delegation for all the support provided to Liberia.Concerning President Weah’s instruction to reactivate the Agriculture Company of the AFL, Minister Dixon says the onus is now on the Ministry of Defense to initiate the process to leverage the partnership.

He notes that when the Commander – in – Chief gives a directive like that, the Ministry of Defense takes the initiative right away, including developing the necessary requirements and plans.By Winston W. Parley

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