Monrovia - In the wake of the recent drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the turnover of Liberia’s security to the government, the United States Government has stepped in with logistical support to beef up the logistical needs of the Armed Forces of Liberia in carrying out its duties and operations.
“As our partnership moves forward, our support will continue, through the Embassy’s office of security Cooperation, focusing on five main areas - Defense Institution strengthening, engineer support, professional development, maritime security, and medical readiness”- Christine Ann Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia
The donations which included 18 land cruiser Pick-ups, two land cruiser maintenance vehicles, two boats and a 44 feet container of spare parts were presented by the US Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Ann Elder at the Ministry of Defense in Monrovia.
“As our partnership moves forward, our support will continue, through the Embassy’s office of security cooperation, focusing on five main areas: defense institution strengthening, engineer support, professional development, Maritime security, and Medical Readiness,” said US Ambassador, Christine Ann Elder.
Ambassador Elder said as the Liberian security forces have taken over security responsibility from UNMIL peacekeepers, the US government commends its Liberian counterpart commitment to contributing to peacekeeping internationally.
“And in order to support the AFL’s upcoming rotation of a contingent to the MINUSMA peace keeping in Mali, the US is providing as a permanent donation of a 10,000 liter water truck, a 50,000 liter/daily water truck of purification unit and a mobile kitchen trailer. "
"Several of these new land cruisers pickups are likely to be deployed to Mali as well”, said Ambassador Elder.
“Among other activities, we are also helping to establish a system to monitor the integrity of the Armed Forces of Liberia, assist with force management and maintenance policies, develop basic clinical and laboratory facilities, provide training for AFL medical personnel, and further develop the engineer battalion,” the United States envoy added.
Also speaking at the program, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said a few months ago, she received a communication from the UN that pointed to some deficiencies in logistical support in the Liberian peacekeeping mission in Mali.
”I called Minister Samukai to tell him about the deficiencies and he told me we had to do something to keep the program going, as it has created an opportunity for promoting the image of Liberia and has helped trained our soldiers internationally."
"So, Madam Ambassador, your timing is always strategic in helping us, because you came in with these donations when we needed it most in order to support our troops in Mali and you came at the right time,” said President Sirleaf.
President also said “These vehicles will do well for the AFL to be able to carry out their duties efficiently. To our General of the AFL, let’s see how you will put up with the coast guard protecting our waters that has a major challenge in protecting our waters, due to the recent pirate movement in the West African region."
"We are very concerned about this challenge, but with the help of the US, I know we will put things under control.”
AFL Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Daniel D. Ziankahn said the donations could not have come at a better time than now after the drawdown of UNMIL.
Gen. Ziankahn said the vehicles and equipment will serve the purpose of the Armed Forces of Liberia as they are in dire need of equipment and vehicles.
“These vehicles will be used for tactical purpose; I will send many of them to Mali and some to the rural areas in the counties, as they are four wheel drive vehicles. Very few will be used for administrative”, he assured.
After the short program attended by top Government Officials, the Army, and the citizens, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and AFL Chief of Staff Ziankahn took President Sirleaf and US Ambassador Elder, for inspection of the vehicles while President Sirleaf cut the ribbons.
The US remains one of the leading supporters to the new Armed Forces of Liberia. During the training exercise, the US through a program Dyncorp was involved with the training of the new army. The US has also been providing other assistances to the army.