The Commander-In-Chief for the Armed Forces of Liberia, President George Manneh Weah, stresses the need to improve living condition of men and women in arms whose duties are to defend and protect the territorial confines of Liberia besides performing civil duties.
Commander-In-Chief Weah has with immediate effect ordered the Minister of National Defense retired Brigadier General Daniel Zankaih to conduct feasibility study for the construction of a modern hospital exclusively for military personnel, their families and other members of the national security apparatus, stressing that men and women who enlist in the military should be properly taken care of, including better salary and incentives.
Speaking at Armed Forces Day celebration on Monday, 12 February at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia, the C-I-C also promises better homes for soldiers, lamenting that the Edward Binyan Kessely Barracks or EBK along the Robertsfield Highway in Margibi County is seriously congested and can no longer accommodate soldiers and their families.
Indeed, the Commander-In-Chief couldn’t have said it any better. For too long our servicemen and women have been treated with little attention and little respect with no future for them after they retire from active service.
This has to change if we must make the military attractive enough for those of our compatriots who want to take up a career in the army. It is an enviable discipline and admirable institution that prepares an individual for leadership, service, and love for country.
The only Liberian leader who gave the military a public image was slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe, a former Master Sergeant from the AFL, who led a bloody coup that toppled a sitting chairman for the then Organization for African Unity now the African Union, President William R. Tolbert, Jr.on April 12, 1980.
The Doe administration invested heavily in the military that saw the AFL professional trained, well organized and supported, but he introduced nepotism and tribal loyalty which reduced this noble institution to a killing machine that turned the guns not against external aggression but armless civilians, hunting perceived enemies here and there across the country during the civil war in the 90s.
However, thanks to former Commander-In-Chief Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under whose administration the Armed Forces of Liberia was restructured, beginning with standards set for recruitment, instilling discipline and giving it a positive public image of “force for good.”
It is this is positive image that C-I-C Weah wants sustained, which can only be made possible by genuine support rather than mere lip-service as we learned from the recent past characterized by soldiers’ wives protesting in the streets, erecting roadblocks in demand of their husbands’ benefits.
We cannot have a “force for good” when the state is unable to provide any package to families of soldiers, who gave their lives in service to the nation. Not that resources are not available, but for some selfish reasons, those who were at the helm of power didn’t deem it a priority. This has to change if we truly intend to building a professional army that not only we would be proud of, but the entire subregion and the rest of the world would admire.