President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has extolled the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for always rising to the occasion regardless of time, location, situation or condition.
She made the statement in her Armed Forces Day message delivered at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Force held at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.
President Sirleaf, who is also Commander-In-Chief of the AFL, reflected on the turbulent days of disturbance at the country’s South-eastern border with neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire where the military swiftly moved in and executed “Operation Restore Hope”, demonstrating the effectiveness of civilian and military collaboration.
She described the AFL’s 60th anniversary celebration as being two-fold – one being the occasion itself set aside to honor the men and women in arms and the other being her last official celebration of Armed Forces Day as President of Liberia, noting that celebrating the annual event brings glory and honor to her as C-I-C.
President Johnson Sirleaf said the splendid and successful implementation of “Operation Restore Hope” by the Liberian military is a clear sign of the outstanding training and discipline the AFL has received since she ascended to the presidency in 2006.
She stressed the exceptional performance by the AFL, but prayed that the opportunity will no longer arise where they will have to physically fight terrorists on home soil.
Meanwhile, C-I-C Sirleaf has extolled former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for his exceptional role in building the new army, particularly for sending some of his country’s trained and professional soldiers to help with the training of the AFL.
The Liberian leader also credited the U.S. Government for training programs, noting that some U.S military personnel still work with the AFL in various capacities.
She also praised China and other development partners for helping to equip the new army.
It can be recalled that the rebuilding of the new army in Liberia began in 2006 following the ascendancy of President Sirleaf to power as Africa’s and Liberia’s first democratically-elected female president.
The Liberian military is already helping with regional peace by taking up peacekeeping duty in Mali and has officers assigned at the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as part of the region’s standby force, as well as having the Mano River Union secretariat under its security protocol.
In recognition of the fallen men and women of the army, President Sirleaf recognized the presence of the widows of the first Nigerian Commanding Officer in charge of the Liberian military, the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff, all of whom were present at the occasion.
In a related development, the ex-president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed Confidence in the professional services of the AFL, noting that the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is a professional force that is being built given the level of reforms that have taken place in the army over the years.
“It is evident that the decision to build a professional force for good from bottom up is paying off. But, there are lessons to be learned,” Obasanjo said, adding, “There are lessons that we must learn from the past, mistakes that we must avoid and the legislation that must be built about the conduct of AFL.”
Obasanjo made the statement Saturday at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia when he served as keynote speaker at the 60th anniversary celebration of Armed Forces Day.
Obasango urged members of the AFL to perform their duties at all times in accordance with democratic values and human rights as well as avoid segregation and other conducts that are unprofessional.
“First, we must do all we can to ensure that the new military (AFL) is not politicized; a professional military is a national organization and institution with national character and allegiance,” he noted.
Obansajo said the military should remain strictly neutral and that on no account should it be involved in non-military duties during the conduct of elections, emphasizing that the role of the AFL must focus strictly on the general security welfare of the nation during the elections period, adding, “Never should he military be involved in the conduct of elections.”
Obasanjo underscored the need for special attention to be given to capacity building of the AFL for the purpose improving the army to better serve the nation.
Meanwhile, the former Nigerian leader has congratulated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her outstanding leadership as chair of ECOWAS Heads of State and for the mediatory role she played during the recent Gambia election crisis.
LINA/Photos Credit: Executive Mansion