By Lewis S. Teh
Retired Major General and outgoing Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Prince C. Johnson, III, now appointed as Minister of Defense, has cautioned soldiers of the Liberian army to continue to uphold the integrity and professional standards of the military by remaining apolitical and neutral in the discharge of their duties.
He says reports across the globe by international organizations have shown and rated the AFL as the best security institution in Liberia, so the army must retain such standards.
Retire General Johnson gave the cautious on February 5, 2024, at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia at a colorful program marking the turning over and signing ceremony of a new Chief of Staff for the AFL.
“Tremendous time to be honorably retired after nearly 18 years of service to the people of Liberia and the AFL”, he says.
General Johnson, who was appointed recently as Minister of Defense by Commander-In-Chief President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, describes his services rendered as a privilege to serve his country by occupying all three senior offices of the AFL beginning from Commander, Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff.
“I have witnessed two successful democratic elections 2018-2024 and most importantly, upholding the integrity of our noble institution”, he says and adds, “I’m looking at you Col. Forleh who’s taking charge today, the AFL is regarded as the best institution looking back at the civil war where we came from as a country, looking at what is happening in the region currently today, the AFL stands apolitical during one of our crucial elections.”
He thanks former Presidents Sirleaf and Weah, and current President Boakai, including partners such as ECOWAS, among others, describing his transition as the best gift any military personnel will receive to be retired honorably.
“I believe after 18 years of service, it’s time for us to transition to allow the younger ones to steer the affairs of the military.”
Incoming Chief of Staff Brigadier General Davidson F, Forleh, while receiving the garble of authority, assured the outgoing Chief of Staff and members of the army that his decision would be in the best interest of the country.
Gen. Forleh expressed delight to have ascended to the military’s highest seat and vowed to tap on the expertise and legacies of his two predecessors, Maj.Gen. (Rtd) Ziankahn, and Maj.Gen. (Rtd) Johnson.
He also thanked President Boakai for the opportunity giving him to serve the nation, noting that the decisions one takes in life have consequences.
“Today in 2006 I remember we took a decision and my predecessors have decided to take that same decision with me so we have come a long way together”, he says, adding that all those decisions that were taken brought him where he sits currently.
He recalled the AFL success in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where Liberia is remembered for sending her first detachment, and again in 2006 when he worked tirelessly in Bamako, Mali attributing all those successes to the decisions taken over the years.
The turning-over ceremony wasn’t characterized by the signing and turning over of documents and military drills only, but it was also an “eye on the hill” exhibition of Change of Command and shared memories.
The occasion brought together scores of dignitaries, including United States Defense Attaché, members of the ECOWAS Advisory Training Team (EATT), other partners, the immediate past Defense Minister, the new Deputy Chief of Staff, Senior AFL Personnel, and families of the outgoing and incoming Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Chief of Staff, among others. Editing by Jonathan Browne