When the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the deployment of Liberian troops in the West African state of Mali as part of the international peacekeeping mission, some thought it was another bluff by the Government of Liberia. Even with the approval of the Liberian Legislature, little did they understand that it was the actual reality, and the second time for this nation to participate in continental peacekeeping operations.
Today, the government and people of Liberia can say with pride and dignity that their men and women-in-arms have accomplished their mission in Mail with the highest degree of excellence. The Platoon of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, who left the country a little over a year ago, returned home yesterday following their successful participation in the Mali international mission. The Liberian peacekeeping troops were based at Alantona Camp in Diabaly, about 340 km northeast of the capital, Bamako. “The platoon of soldiers is the first post-war peacekeepers, who have served in international peacekeeping with distinction, bringing pride to our nation, a Defense Ministry statement issued in Monrovia Tuesday noted, saluting the AFL soldiers for a job well done.
“We want Liberians to know that they have flown the Liberian Flag very high on the international scene; 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,” the statement added. It is our understanding that while on the Mali Mission, the Platoon of AFL Soldiers, over a 12-month period, conducted several missions in and out of its areas of operations to include escort, vehicle and foot patrols, reconnaissance and other special assignments- the most critical task undertaken in its peacekeeping duties being to provide security protection for wide areas far beyond its capacity for a period of 42 days after the pull out of Nigerian forces.
Prior to the return of the soldiers, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and AFL Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Daniel Ziankahn, participated in a Medal Day Parade held in honor of the Platoon serving in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali or MINUSMA, at which time they decorated on June 6, 2014 in line with the administrative mandate towards personnel serving in peacekeeping.
On June 23, 2013, the Government of Liberia dispatched the troops to form part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA)– an (ECOWAS) organized military mission sent to support the government of ECOWAS member nation Mali against Islamist rebels in Northern Mali. With the return of our soldiers back home, we can only hail their efforts and gallantry, as well as the excellent representation of our dear country. We do join the government in thanking God for you and our country for a job well done and the safe return of all of you.
We can pray and hope that the new Infantry Platoon, headed by Captain Ernest A. Appleton who departed the country on Thursday, June 26, 2014 for Mali will also follow the examples of the returnees. Bravo to the men and women-in-arms from Mali; welcome back home.