AFL Ready, Prepared To Work…Samukai Assures; As Ellen Seeks Additional Support For Army

By Morrison O.G. Sayon

Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has assured that the Engineering Company of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is prepared and ready to carry out its civil responsibilities.

Speaking yesterday at program marking the celebration of the 58th Armed Forces Day in Monrovia, Minister Samukai said the soldiers and their counterparts from the Ministry of Public Works were jointly trained by their Chinese counterparts in road rehabilitation and maintenance of road-working equipment.

He added, “Our AFL Engineers are better equipped and prepared to undertake strategic road work interventions, once the necessary financial and logistical supports are provided. We are better prepared to work year round, rain or shine, to help fix our community and feeder roads; we are better prepared to go where others fear to go, and are waiting for the sun to shine or day to break.,” Minister Samukai said.

He further assured President Sirleaf that with the requisite financial support and assistance, the AFL Engineering Company and their equipment dare to clean up the mud, build the crown, fix the roads, and let the people ride year round to carry on with their lives.

He then lauded the Military Advisors, Trainers, and Mentors from the U.S. Military, from Nigeria and from Ghana, including AFL’s counterparts from Sierra Leone for continuing to support the professional development of the Armed Forces of Liberia. He specifically, praised General Volesky and his entire corps of U.S. Military personnel for the professional bearing, training, and assistance to the AFL.

Minister Brownie Samukai outlined gains made by the AFL and several challenges facing the force noting that the challenging priorities being faced by the AFL, is the burning issue of inadequate housing for its military personnel and their eligible dependents in the various military barracks.

He also reminded the Liberian leader of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Todee housing facilities and Camp Ware residential areas which he said are still at a slow pace due to inadequate funding. He said educational facilities in the various camps are grossly inadequate to accommodate the increasing enrollment of eligible dependents of military personnel.

“It is in this respect that we appeal for additional financial support to continue and complete the Todee housing project in order to decongest our military barracks, as well as provide additional educational classrooms for eligible dependents of our military personnel,” Samukai said.

He also appealed for funding to purchase uniform apparels and other accessories for the outlook of the military personnel adding, “We humbly seek additional funding to maintain all of our equipment and assets. Our Coast Guard vessels are facing the uncertainty of being inoperable if funding is not readily available to carry out routine preventive maintenance checks and services,” Samukai stated.

At the same time, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has reiterated call for additional support to the Armed Force of Liberia.

In her Armed Forces Day message, President Sirleaf appealed for additional support in strengthening the capacity of the AFL. According to her, such support will enable the AFL to contribute more meaningfully to the country’s post Ebola challenges.

The Liberian leader added, “We have to prepare our military to undertake new tasks other than war and support civil authorities in dealing with other emergencies.”

President Sirleaf said significant progress has been made in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease, but called on Liberians to still remain vigilant to ensure that the virus is completely eradicated.

“We are cognizant of the profound sacrifices made and partnerships built with the Armed Forces of Liberia during this period of our national crisis, the process of transforming the Armed Forces of Liberia remains on track. We appreciate the support from our partner nations for providing training opportunities to our Military,” the President said.

She said to date more than 500 personnel of the military have been trained in military and other professional institutions in the United States of America, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, People’s Republic of China, Ghana, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Arab Republic of Egypt and Rwanda.

She then noted that additional training opportunities which were granted to the AFL had to be suspended due to the current health crisis saying, “As Ebola gets kicked out of our country and the region, we look forward to continuing our partnership in the development of the Armed Forces of Liberia so that it can further contribute to our post-Ebola engagements,” President Sirleaf said.

The President intimated that in spite of the effect of the Ebola pandemic, which reversed the many gains Liberians have made in the realization of their development agenda, Government remains committed and is focused on the attainment of its Agenda for Transformation (AFT). She described the role of the military in the successful implementation of the Agenda as crucial. “That is why we will support the AFL Engineering Company to assist the Ministry of Public Works in the rehabilitation of dilapidated roads and the construction of required feeder roads across the country,” Madam Sirleaf said.

At the same time according to President Sirleaf Government will also ensure that support to the health care delivery system becomes a priority, especially the training of additional health care workers in early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. She lauded governments and organizations that have stood with Liberia in this critical and challenging period of the nation’s history.