New Liberian Army Chief of Staff Expected February 11 – Pres. Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has nominated a Liberian to serve as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for the first time since the restructuring of the national army.

The AFL, which was disbanded as a result of the civil conflict, was restructured and the first Chief of Staff was a Nigerian General, in apparent recognition of Nigeria’s role in the restoration of peace to Liberia.

President Sirleaf said in consultation with the relevant committees and the National Legislature, she has also officially nominated for confirmation by the Senate, the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Brigade Commander, all of whom, if confirmed, would be installed in these positions on February 11, Armed Forces Day.

She did not name the nominees in her State of the Nation address delivered Monday before the Third Session of the 53rd National Legislature on the theme: “Consolidating the Processes of Transformation.

The Liberian leader, in keeping with Constitutional provision, delivers a state of the nation address on the fourth working Monday in January of each year.

“We will then bid farewell to General Suraj Abdurrahman, who has served us so well, as the Commanding Officer-in-Charge (of the Army),” President Sirleaf said.

President Sirleaf said with the support of the international community, especially the United States and United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building efforts, Liberia has rebuilt a new, ethnically balanced and professional army.

“Under the leadership of the Ministry of National Defense, a 1,980-person-strong Armed Forces of Liberia continues to position itself to support a democratic environment through tactical and technical proficiencies and the development of a robust capacity to defend our territorial integrity,” the Liberian leader said.

She said the Armed Forces Training Command, now headquartered at the newly renovated Todee Camp, assumed responsibility for tactical and proficiency training locally, and is presently training 140 new army recruits, which will be increased by some 400 recruits who were vetted and endorsed by the Joint Personnel Board.

President Sirleaf disclosed that the AFL is also expanding its Engineering and Medical Units to assist in reconstruction projects and social service delivery, while the Coast Guard of 82 persons, is expanding and strengthening its capabilities to patrol and protect Liberia’s maritime domain, as evidenced by the arrests of several illegal fishing vessels in our waters.”

Meanwhile, the Liberian leader has further disclosed that the UNMIL transition plan, which transfers security management of the state to the government, has entered its second phase, having completed phase one in Robertsport, Foya District, and  at the Loguatou Border in Nimba County.

She said plans are well underway for trained security units to fill security personnel gaps created by the UNMIL drawdown.

In another security related issue, the Liberian leader has said that Government has embarked upon a process to enhance the professional capacity of the Liberia National Police, immigration and intelligence agencies in line with their responsibility for security within Liberia’s borders.

She, however, said much work remains to be done, and welcomed the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2116 that extends the mandate of UN peacekeepers to September 30, 2014.”

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