By Morrison O. G. Sayon
The reactivation of the Engineering Battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia yesterday was the major topic of discussion by panelists who participated in a one-day Symposium organized by the AFL.
Most of the speakers stressed the need for the Engineering Battalion of the AFL to be reactivated so as to strengthen the military’s Engineering Battalion in assisting the Ministry of Public Works in the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in the country.
The panelists who included, Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, Maj. Gen. Julius F. Oketta, Head of AU Ebola Response Unit; Mrs. Caroline B. Brown and the keynote speaker, Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh reasoned that if the AFL Engineering Battalion is reactivated, it will strengthen that section of the Armed Forces of Liberia with the view of contributing to nation building and provision of healthcare which are crucial to the country’s recovery and economic development.
Minister Sannoh for his part added that for it to succeed, the AFL Engineering Battalion should be encouraged and given preference in the award of contracts by the Ministry of Public Works and other Ministries in the areas of construction.
Making specific reference to the theme of the Symposium which states, “Military Support to Civil Authorities: the Way Forward, Justice Minister Sannoh said, “I recommend that the proposed road Maintenance Fund, which the Ministry of Public Works intends to establish, should be placed at the disposal of the AFL Engineering Battalion to support its work.”
For Minister Dukuly, the AFL has not only been transformed physically but psycho-socially and geographically balanced with educated young Liberians. He recommended that a trans-border peace must be prioritized by the AFL in collaboration with the Liberia National Police.
Minister Dukuly proposed that the AFL must be given the opportunity to carry on all of the county development projects throughout the country as a means of allowing the army to work with civil authorities.
With the help from the US-Africon which is providing technical support, Minister Dukuly disclosed that his Ministry has submitted a National Disaster Management System Bill to the National Legislature for enactment.
Another panelist, Madam Caroline Brown said in order for the army to lent support to civil authorities, it must have the capacity and the capability. She said AFL as per its mandate, was established to save lives and give other supports to the country.
Madam Brown added that the National Army must be prepared and ready for disaster management at all times. She said for the army to support civil authorities effectively, requires preparedness, right skills, needed resources, communication, coordination and accountability.
Also speaking, Maj. Gen. Oketta said to support civil authorities, the military must first of all respect the Constitution, do away with political affairs and must be prepared at all times for any eventuality.
The symposium was organized by the AFL to showcase some aspects of the army’s professionalism, performances and exploits to the general public as part of its effort at strengthening the security pillar towards nation-building.
The symposium seeks to obtain views from wider and broader prospective on the management of national security as a way of solution to contemporary security challenges the country is faced with.