America Ready to Reform Liberian Army
-New Life After Death Begins Soon
By Lewis K. Glay
The US Department of State funding for Security Sector Reform (SSR) will this year begin a three-year contractor-executed program for sustained peace and security in Liberia after the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia.
At a press conference held yesterday at the US Embassy Library at Mamba Point, the head of US-Liberia Restructuring Team, Andy Michels expressed his government’s (USA) willingness to help recreate a high quality, professional Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) that will be apolitically, ethnically and religiously balanced to defend the country at every security level.
The SSR is expected to produce small but efficient and robust units to include ground, air and maritime components to be funded by the Liberia National Defense budget.
The training that is expected to commence early this year will include recruiting, qualification, procurement as well as the refurbishment of training facilities in the country. Moral conduct and untainted character will form part of the criteria in examining who becomes qualified for the restructured Liberian army.
Accordingly, the SSR will re-establish US-Liberia military relationship, as through the US Embassy, the Office of the Defense Cooperation (ODC) will coordinate the program in regular consultation with the National Transitional Government of Liberia’s Ministry of Defense.
The availability of funding may afford the AFL the opportunity to include the Ministry of Defense and brigade headquarters, refurbishment of training and operational bases; four light motorized infantry battalions, an engineer battalion, a support battalion, a coastguard, aerial surveillance and a reconnaissance unit.
Defense Minster Daniel Chea for his part, assured the SSR team of government’s fullest support to the exercise. He disclosed that holding everything constant, the first restructured battalion of the AFL will be deployed by December this year.
He called on Liberians to give credence to the restructuring process in order to make the new Liberia free of security lapses.