By Winston W. Parley
In commemoration of its 63rd Armed Forces Day celebration, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) says it is encouraging more female participation in the military and other security services, but it sets the bar high for the recruitment of females into the military.
Addressing a press conference on activities leading to the Armed Forces Day celebration Monday, 3 February at the headquarters of the AFL, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs Sam Collins said in the soonest of time, authorities will encourage females to turn out for recruitment and to justify their own inclusion into the new AFL.
“We are not just encouraging females because we want to have women in their numbers within the Armed Forces of Liberia; we are encouraging qualified women to sign [up] for the Armed Forces of Liberia,” Mr. Collins says.
“Women whose capacities are built, women who believe in the forward movement of our country; women who have the requisite educational background; women who live up to standard in terms of human rights, those are the kinds of women that we want to join the Armed Forces of Liberia,” he adds.
Mr. Collins says the age requirement is set from 18 and above for recruitment.
As part of activities for the 63rd Armed Forces Day, he says the Armed Forces here is trying to generate the spirit in females to join security services, whether it is in the army or the police, among others, because there is confidence that women have a lot to offer.
High school graduates and above are encouraged to sign up to join the army.
As part of the AFL’s community relations program, Mr. Collins discloses that on 8 February the AFL will lead a massive cleanup campaign with community dwellers in Caldwell, and will also carry out medical outreach in Careysburg, Montserrado County to residents free of charge.
According to Collins, the assurance received is that the residents of Caldwell are going to turn out in their numbers to work along with the AFL in its massive cleanup campaign on 8 February.
“The reason is that we want to make the community feel part of the military. The men in uniforms are not animals. The men in uniforms are not people for community dwellers to be afraid of. We need to build relationship with the community because the personnel in the armed forces live in the community, they are part of the community,” Collins explains.
He adds that the outbreak of any virus or any disease will affect them, their relatives and break the officers down and make them not to concentrate on missions or to be mission – prepared.
Giving a historical background of the Armed Forces Day earlier, AFL’s Acting Information Officer Major El – Dorado Jebboe says the Day was set aside by an Act of Legislature to remember soldiers who lost their lives in battle against foreign military personnel seeking to overthrow late President Arthur Barclay’s government, and active and past AFL soldiers.
Major Jebboe explains that February 11, 1909 was a date to remember, when officers of the Liberia Frontier Force (now Armed Forces of Liberia) dislodged the foreign troops comprising of 71 British and 279 Sierra Leonean army officers who had been deployed to work along with the Liberian army.
Prior to the mutiny, Major Jebboe says the British Majesty Service officer who lead the mutiny had been deployed as head of the Liberia Frontier Force under an arrangement intended for the British government to get Liberian resources as payback for a loan that late President Edward J. Roye got from Britain which Liberia could not pay up to president Barclay’s rule.
But during the British and Sierra Leonean soldiers’ deployment here, Major Jebboe recalls that their commander from the British Majesty Service had no respect for Liberia’s then sitting president Barclay and took no instruction from the president at the time.
“So he incited mutiny among his soldiers with the intention to unseat President Arthur Barclay,” Major Jebboe says.
He notes that the British military commander put his men in the streets on February 11, 1909, claiming that President Arthur Barclay was owing them salaries areas, seizing a military camp which was located to where Liberia’s current Executive Mansion is seated today on Capitol Hill to hold government hostage.
However, Major Jebboe notes that President Barclay mounted the courage and mandated the Liberian troops to avert the mutiny, which he says successfully contained the mutiny and forced the foreign troops to flee Liberia within 24 hours.
Jebboe notes that this move gave Liberia its freedom and redeemed the nation’s sovereignty.