By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The man who is expected to take over as Chief of Staff of the new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Dee Ziankahn, has told the Senate Committee on Defense, National Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs that if confirmed by plenary, his vision is to have a small and robust force but would have a large tactical operational impact on the society.
Speaking yesterday in the chambers of the Senate after he took an oath to explain his scope of operation for the Army, Col. Ziankahn told the 15-man Senate Committee members that Liberia does not need a large military force for now because of limited resources.
Considering the current economic status of the country, Ziankahn narrated that a large army will always experience high attrition rate and the issue of logistics would become a predicament.
Responding to questions concerning the draw-down plan of UNMIL, the military chief told the Senators that the AFL needs a state of an art training base, and advanced weapon system to deal with national and international situations.
He assured the Senators that under his command as Chief of Staff of the AFL, he will execute orders from his bosses and ensure that discipline remains the hallmark of the day.
Answering to questions as to whether he has any political tie in the country, Ziankahn disclosed that his loyalty goes to Liberia and not individuals or a political party.
As an infantry soldier by specialty, Col. Ziankahn said he sees himself as a “blessed child” and the position is a result of a fruit of his labor. “I am a Liberian and hold no allegiance to any country besides Liberia. I will be responsible for the 23rd Infantry Brigade, Coast Guard, Training in Command, other units in platoon size like the medical and the Air Wing of the Army.
As for his Deputy, Col. Dennis Eric Wamu, he promised to work with the Chief of Staff to ensure that the territorial borders are protected. He told the committee that the issue of human rights and all other rules of engagement will be adhered to in the new army while taking over as Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL.
Col. Dennis, who hails from Maryland County, was born on February 15, 1969; he was also an infantry soldier and was a lecturer in Military Science/ROTC Department at the University of Liberia (UL) 1989-2006. He holds a BBA Degree in Management from the University of Liberia in 1998 and an Msc Cand-International Relations (Political Science)-Ibrahim B. Banbangida School of Professional Studies (IBB), UL-1997-2006.
As for Col. Ziankahn, he started his active duty in the army since July 2006 and was commissioned on May 8, 2007. He has a Bachelor Degree, BBA in Business Management from the A.M.E. Zion University College and a Master of Military Art and Science (MMAS) from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Col. Ziankahn is married to Nathaline Ziankahn and is blessed with two children, one age 16 and the other 6. In December 2006, he was promoted as Sergeant; on May 8, 2007, 2nd Lieutenant, March 10, 2009, 1st Lieutenant, while on April 15, 2010 he was promoted as Captain and on April 6, 2012 he rose to the rank of Major respectively. Lastly, on October 13, 2013, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His current assignment is Acting Commander 23rd Infantry Brigade.
Recently during her State of the Nation address, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, nominated a Chief of Staff and a Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The newly nominated Chief of Staff is currently Brigade Commander of the AFL. If confirmed by the Liberian Senate, Col, Ziankhan will replace the Nigerian Command Officer-in-Charge, Major General Suraj Alao Abdurrahman.
The nominations were made in keeping with Article 54, Section E, of the Liberian Constitution which authorizes the President to nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission members of the military from the rank of Lieutenant or equivalent and above.
In a letter addressed to the Liberian Senate, President Sirleaf said the officers have met all the requirements necessary, including advance and strategic training at various military institutions, and their deportment and discipline have been highly commended by the country’s international partners involved in the restructuring of the AFL.
“They have my full confidence,” the President stated in the letter.
At the close of the confirmation hearing yesterday, Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson, told the nominees that the committee will forward its decision to plenary in the soonest possible time for any action when necessary.