AFL Shines In Mali

Troops of the New Armed Forces of Liberia are flying the Liberian Flag with pride as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Section 2.3b of the New National Defense Act of 2008 has become a reality.

The primary mission of the AFL is to defend the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Liberia, including land, air and maritime territory, against external aggression, insurgency, terrorism and encroachment. In addition, the AFLshall respond to natural disasters and engage in other civic work as required or directed. According to the Defense Act of 2008 the AFL shall also participate in international peacekeeping enforcement and other mission conducted by the UN, Africa Union, Economic Community of West African States, Mano River Union (MRU) and or all international institutions of which Liberia is a member.

Today, the new AFL is indeed contributing immensely to international peace efforts, representing Liberia and translating the skills and training they have acquired over the last seven years into a real combat environment. It can be recalled that four months ago June 23, 2013, troops from the Armed Forces of Liberia arrived in Mali on board a United States C-17 military aircraft to participate in the African-Led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and was received by the Nigerian Battalion at the Bamako International Airport. This move fulfilled of the President’s commitment for Liberia to contribute troops to the peacekeeping operations in Mali in an attempt to restore country’s the territorial integrity.

On June 26, the AFL unit hosted with pride the Liberia National Colors at the Headquarters NIBATT One Base in Mali, and on July 1, the unit participated in the re-hatting ceremony, changing from the African-Led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

After four months of deployment, the United Nations is praising the efforts of the AFL’s first operations deployment in more than 50 years. “Since the arrival of AFL in Mali, the troops have been performing excellently well in the performance of their duty,” said Col. Vincent Pillet, chief of staff, Force Headquarters MINUSMA.

The troops were deployed alongside a Nigerian battalion in Northwest of Mali. Today, they are deployed alongside Togolese troops. Since the deployment of the AFL in Mali, the unit has been participating in several joint UN training and operations, (including), joint training on administration, site security and electioneering. The troops also conducted some civil-military engagements with local leaders on the deployment for elections in Mali.

Recently, two AFL officers visited Mali to meet with deployed AFL troops. During the visit, the team, led by Maj. Prince C. Johnson III, met with Col. Pillet at the MINUSMA Force Headquarters in Bamako, Mali. During the meeting, Pillet said the UN is satisfied with the excellent conduct of the AFL unit in Mali.

The team also visited the unit at their camp site in the Northwest of Mali. “I am so happy to be here representing my country and I am grateful to God for the opportunity given to me by the Commander-In-Chief of the AFL to be a part of this peace initiative. My regards to my family back in Liberia,” said Cpl. Alvin Vaye, AFL logistics specialist in Mali. The government of Liberia has also made available bullet proof body armor vests with steel plates for operations to troops deployed in Mali.

In another development, the Headquarters of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has confirmed the approval of two AFL officers to occupy staff officer positions. Capt. Thomas Nimley was selected for the U1 Management position and Capt. John B. Kolulo was chosen for the U4 Logistics position at MINUSMA Headquarters in Bamako, Mali.