The Liberian Government has announced that it plans to use some military equipment donated to it by the United States Government through its embassy here to boost the operations of its troops in Mali.
Liberia has maintained about 50 troops in Mali since June 2013, the first after the civil conflict ended here some 13 years ago. The troops are part of a 12,000-strong U.N. force, known as MINUSMA, which took over peacekeeping duties from an African regional mission deployed after France launched an offensive in January of 2013 to drive Islamist rebels from northern Mali.
The peacekeeping deployment is only the second in Liberia’s history, after it sent peacekeepers to Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1960s. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf receiving 18 Land Cruiser pickup Trucks, two Land Cruiser maintenance vehicles, two boats, as well as spare parts on Tuesday, July 12, through the U.S. Ambassador here said some of the equipment would be sent to the Mali Mission to boost the Liberian troops operations there.
She disclosed that the Liberian Military Mission in Mali had suffered some deficiencies for some months now due to the lack of equipment. President Sirleaf said she had received a letter from the UN country team in Mali some months ago to that effect, indicating that some of the U.S. Government donation to the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL here will be sent there to alleviate the problem.
Mrs. Sirleaf said the army’s operation in Mali is a program that the Liberian Government is pleased to carry on. In addition, U.S Ambassador Christine Ann Elder presented a 10,000 liter water truck, a 50,000 liter day water purification unit and a mobile kitchen trailer, as the U.S Government’s permanent contribution to the Liberia-Mali Mission.
Amb. Elder said it is intended to support the AFL upcoming rotation of a contingent to the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali.
She also hailed the commitment of the Government of Liberia contribution to peacekeeping internationally
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf said Liberia’s participation in the peacekeeping mission in Mali was not on the basis of the reciprocation of neighbors who have come to Liberia’s call in times of difficulties; but also because of the training opportunity that they represented as soldiers and the benefits Liberia is able to get.
She acknowledged that the Mali Mission is a program that all of the soldiers are very pleased about, noting that “we” got to find a way to get the resources to equip them properly so that they can carry out their function.” She was quick to add that her government has been trying to do just that.
Saying that the timing of the donation was strategic, President Sirleaf told the U.S envoy that the donation came at a time when Liberian authorities were trying to see what they could do within their scarce resources to meet the needs of the soldiers.
President Sirleaf said the vehicles will assist the army to be mobile to carry out the functions that it has been carrying out recently, which includes going beyond security protection by participating in the reconstruction of the country through the engineering battalion that is working on roads here.
She thanked the U.S Government for its continuous support to Liberia and the AFL. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Daniel Ziankhan reemphasized government’s plans that most of the vehicles donated by the U.S Government will be deployed outside of Monrovia, while the rest will be sent to the Mali mission.
He said the donation was helpful on grounds that it will enhance the army’s tactical and mobility operations, while also noting that it will strengthen the Liberian Mali Mission.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Othello B. Garblah