U.S. officials celebrate Armed Forces of Liberia accomplishments at MINUSMA conclusion ceremony
Story by Capt. Andrew Layton | Michigan National Guard |
With the conclusion of the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Dec. 31, the Republic of Liberia’s Ministry of National Defense hosted an end of mission parade at Barclay Training Center, in Monrovia, Dec. 21.
The event, which formally recognized the contributions of peacekeepers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in Mali since 2013, was attended by U.S. officials including U.S. Embassy – Monrovia Chargé d’Affaires Catherine Rodriguez, and representatives of the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation in Monrovia. Over eight rotations, the Armed Forces of Liberia deployed approximately 800 of their 2,000 total personnel to Mali.
“The United States recognizes the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of all Liberian men and women who have supported peacekeeping efforts over the last decade,” said Rodriguez. “We assure you, your efforts to support regional security and stability do not go unnoticed.”
The AFL’s contribution to MINUSMA is especially noteworthy considering Liberia was the recipient of its own U.N. peacekeeping mission – the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) – from 2003-2018, following fourteen years of civil war. The operation also marks a significant victory for U.S. security cooperation efforts. In 2006, the U.S. government began tireless work to rebuild Liberia’s entire military and supported Liberia’s entrance in the peacekeeping realm. The AFL has, by all accounts, performed admirably during its ten years in MINUSMA, underlining their adherence to human rights and the law of war; ideals the USG has worked hard to embed into Liberia’s military institutions.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, offered congratulations to the AFL by correspondence. The Michigan National Guard has been Liberia’s committed partner under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP) since 2009 and was involved in Liberia’s Security Sector Reform through the U.S. AFRICOM-sponsored Operation Onward Liberty (OOL).
“The AFL’s performance in MINUSMA is remarkable proof of how far the Liberian military has come as a professional and disciplined military organization,” said Rogers. “From recipients of a U.N. peacekeeping mission to serving as credible and trustworthy peacekeepers in the region, the AFL’s journey in less than two decades is truly extraordinary.”
Since 2013, the AFL has also contributed military observers to the U.N. missions in South Sudan, Sudan, as well as additional support to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mission in Guinea-Bissau.
“The credit goes mainly to the people of Liberia, for the confidence they have in our new armed forces,” said Liberian Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III, AFL Chief of Staff. “It just shows how fast, with the training and equipping of the U.S. government – I always like to call it the U.S. taxpayer’s money – that today, the Armed Forces of Liberia, internationally, has increased the number of countries it has supported to four.”
In November 2023, the people of Liberia executed a presidential runoff election that was praised as free, fair, and peaceful by the international community. The election was another showcase for the resilience of Liberia’s democratic institutions and serves as an example for the region and the world.