Weah Extols Heroism and Gallantry Of AFL @66 -Solicits Support to make it greater

MONROVIA – As a way of appreciating their efforts and encouraging them to strive for the better services to the nation, President George Manneh Weah, has commended members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for the discipline, dedication to duty and commitment to the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity and for the gallantry exhibited by them in executing their missions and tasks wherever they are deployed and urged Liberians in all walks of life to support the AFL to always conduct its functions as a professional military that serves the collective interest of all Liberians.

President Weah’s statement was contained in his remark delivered at this year’s celebration of the Armed Forces Day, held on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at the Barclay Training Center (BTC), an occasion to commemorate the 66th Armed Forces Day to honor the gallant men and women serving the Armed Forces of Liberia.

“Today, we recognize and celebrate sixty-six (66) years of the unflinching dedication of our dear Armed Forces of Liberia to the protection of this Nation.  It is indeed an honor to be the Commander-in-Chief of these great Armed Forces, and it is therefore both a pleasing duty, and a proud privilege, to celebrate with you all on this auspicious occasion, in this capacity”.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I have implicit confidence in the ability of our troops and security forces to effectively execute their duties. I have progressively monitored the achievements of the Armed Forces of Liberia and I have no doubt that it is on the right path to greatness, both locally and in the international community”, President Weah said. 

Commenting on the exploits of the AFL outside the shores of the country, President Weah said today the country’s flag is being carried proudly by the AFL soldiers in the troubled regions of Timbuktu, Mali, Sudan and South Sudan as well as countries where AFL troops are making contributions to peacekeeping include the Republic of Guinea Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He said these are all very Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) missions, asserting “Our hearts go out to them, and we look forward to proudly receiving them safely back home at the end of their missions”.   

While urging the AFL to continue supporting democracy in the country, he said there are unique capacities that the AFL can bring in supporting civil authority, particularly in the development efforts as a nation, first and foremost being “we must continue to strengthen our border control mechanisms, and remain vigilant against the negatives that could affect the peace and stability of our nation and people”.  

He said similarly, the AFL must not waiver to protect ourselves against extremism and the consequences of terrorism. “Accordingly, we must be better informed, and ensure effective coordination and preparedness between and among our military and civilian law enforcement agencies, against any action that could affect our peace, security and stability”, he said.

The President also spoke on the role of the AFL in some development projects undertaken by his administration, saying significantly, the government has involved the Armed Forces in infrastructural development in the country to ensure it contributes its quota to meeting the needs of Liberians, even while conducting its security operations.  He said that the Armed Forces has lived up to this opportunity and has been instrumental to numerous infrastructural development efforts of the Government so far. 

“The Engineer Company has been actively involved in the construction and reconditioning of feeder roads and bridges, as well as pedestrian walkways in some towns and villages of our country.  These projects are well-structured and up to international standards. 

“Also significant was the medical outreach offered to the Liberian people by the Armed Forces in Po River, and the clean-up campaign undertaken by the Armed Forces personnel in Du Port Road Community as part of the Armed Forces Day Celebration. 

“For these few reasons, Fellow Liberians, we should count ourselves lucky for having such a result-oriented Armed Force. Thank you so much, our heroes!!” the president said.

President Weah said his Government is aware that all these achievements have occurred even with the numerous challenges faced by the Armed Forces, including inadequate funding, a lack of manpower, inadequate accommodation for personnel, and insufficient codified policies for administering military justice. 

“However, let me assure you that my Administration is making all concerted effort to address these challenges. For example, just recently, I approved the Court Martial Regulation for the Armed Forces, which will greatly assist the administration of military justice in Liberia.  Many such regulations will come on board in the coming days. 

“Similarly, as we strive to meet the logistic needs of the Armed Forces, we are also making an effort to meet our training needs, by building more capacity for the Armed Forces training institutions.  In this regard, the Armed Forces of Liberia is in the process of establishing its Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at the Armed Forces Training Command at Camp Sandee Ware. This Academy will not only increase our Military capacity, but will also foster and strengthen regional and international ties with foreign militaries.

“Last year, during the 65th Armed Forces Day Celebration, I promised you, as your Commander-in-Chief, to construct twenty-five (25) apartments to ease the accommodation challenge in the AFL.  The project commenced with the construction of two (2) blocks of five (5) apartments in Camp Tubman, Gbarnga, Bong County, and one (1) block of five (5) apartments at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. 

“The construction works for these apartments are currently ongoing, and are being implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), and being constructed by Building Material Center Incorporated. Two (2) blocks of five (5) apartments each are expected to be constructed in the vicinity of the 14 Military Hospital to serve as accommodation for doctors”, he said. 

He said despite the challenges in the growth process, the government shall continue to make favorable policies to support the Armed Forces to grow in strength and might.  “We will continue to look into the future with new hope and aspirations as we expand our efforts.  We understand that there will be challenges in the performance of our duties.  However, we ask all Liberians to continuously see the Armed Forces as a true representation of the Liberian people”.

“The challenges we face today as a Nation is an embodiment of the path we began about five years ago. We have taken bold decisions to change things and restore public confidence in our Military and Security Sectors. It has not been easy to achieve this, especially when viewed against a backdrop of limited resources and technical inefficiencies.  In spite of it all, we did not waiver.  We all were collectively of the firm belief that our intentions were for the future benefit of our citizens.  The investments we have made in the military and in our security sectors, with the strong support of our partners, have given all of us the reassurance of a safe and secure society, as we come closer to the General and Presidential elections that will take place this year.

“To the members of the National Legislature, we also extend our deep appreciation for upholding your constitutional mandates in supporting the Armed Forces of Liberia. At the same time, I commend the Defense Committees in both the House of Representatives and the House of Senate. Thank you for your support to the Armed Forces of Liberia in many forms.  As a responsive government, we will continue to work with you to ensure the best for our Armed Forces

President also used the occasion to commend the leadership of the AFL, mentioning specifically the Chief of Staff, Major General Prince C. Johnson III and his predecessor, Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn (Rtd) who now serves as Defense Minister for ably steering the affairs of the AFL, adding that the exemplary leadership of the AFL was well appreciated

The President further commended Ambassador Stephen Rodriguez, the Keynote Speaker of the 66th Armed Forces Symposium and said he has taken note of the recommendations and suggestions he proffered in his address, titled, “Fostering Effective Stakeholders Engagement for Sustainable Democracy”, which according to him has given him much food for thought.   

“Let me also take this time to appreciate this year’s Distinguished Service Order (DSO) recipients, in persons of Colonel Washington Bower (Retired) and Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Nah (Retired), who served our country tirelessly as pilots in the former Armed Forces of Liberia.

“I am made to understand that our Guest Speaker today, Major General Pablo Estrada, Commanding General of the 46th Military Police Command of the Michigan National Guard, also once served here in Liberia in 2010 with Operation “Onward Liberty”, in providing mentorship for the New Armed Forces of Liberia.    We want to welcome you back home to Liberia, Major General Estrada.  Your leadership at the Michigan National Guard is gratefully acknowledged for the support and assistance you have given, through mentorship and training, which have benefited our Armed Forces”, he said.

In similar vein of commendation, the President did not leave out other countries that contributed to the security sector of the country and named Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone for contributing personnel to the ECOWAS Advisory Training Team (EATT), which has been serving in an advisory capacity to the AFL, and also for offering training slots to the AFL.

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