In the wake of the gradual draw-down of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL, the need for capacitating and augmenting the strength of the Liberian security apparatus, especially the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, cannot be over-emphasized.
At a strength of about two-thousand, the AFL, no doubt, may not be in the position to ensure the defense and security of the state after UNMIL shall have either substantially or completely reduced its forces on the ground in Liberia.
Perhaps, it is in view of the foregoing and other factors that the re-instatement of ex-soldiers was at the core of recent remarks made by President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate Armah Jallah in Monrovia.
Urging both authorities of the Ministry of National Defence and AFL to re-instate former soldiers of the defunct Armed Forces, the President Pro Temp assured such decision would help to beef up the nation’s security for the post-UNMIL era.
According to him, the current strength of the restructured AFL is about 1,500 was inadequate to defend the coastal and landmass borders of Liberia.
“I think the best option for the rebuilding of our army is to bring back the old AFL soldiers, who already have technical knowledge and experience to beef up the army. For now, it should be a concern to every Liberian,” he said.
While some Liberians may harbour the belief that the demobilized army was notorious for systematic abuses prior to its dissolution, others may be of the fervent conviction that not the entire former army may have perpetrated such abuses, especially in most of the crisis involving the AFL soldiers.
In support of the recommendation by the President Pro Temp, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of National Defence, could fish out from among former soldiers of the AFL those with good moral standing and good human rights records, considering their potentials, including experience and technical knowledge for the exercise of possible reinstatement.
Moreover, it may also be less costly to revisit the issue of the demobilized AFL soldiers for recruitment and more expensive and time-consuming for brand new recruitment, if there’s any possibility of augmenting the strength of the current army.
It is no secret about the glaring fact that the government lacks the resources to recruit men and women to beef up the current strength of the military; and we think the best option is to bring back those, who have had the training before and still have age at their advantage – this is our plea to the Ministry of National Defence, in buttressing the recent call by President Pro Temp Armah Jallah.
We can only hope that authorities of the Defence Ministry and AFL will study this recommendation for possible consideration for the approval of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.