Liberia: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Suggests More Budgetary For Military
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The Chairman of the House’s Committee on National Defense, Representative Jimmy W. Smith (CDC, District #2, Montserrado County) is seeking increased budgetary allocation to strengthen the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in order to meet up with its national and international obligations.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
Rep. Smith, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Armed of Liberia, said the army is experiencing attrition and there’s an urgent need to prioritize it with “every available resource”.
Rep. Smith’s request was contained in a report to the House’s Plenary covering his trip to Timbuktu, Mali last March to witness the honoring of the Liberian Contingent serving on a peacekeeping mission in that troubled West African country.
“Realizing that the army is experiencing attrition, which in itself is a deduction of the total strength, and having done no recruitment over the last two fiscal years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, and the lack of logistics, this poses an exigent need for a joint committee of both Houses’ Defense committees to prioritize the necessary budgetary appropriation to enhance the capabilities of our military,” Rep. Smith urged his colleagues in his report.
“Having realized the importance of defense and security, which I know my distinguished colleagues will agree with, and with your indulgence, I which to seek a motion for the leadership of this Honorable House to take siege of this important matter for a joint resolution to adequately support the army with every resources available.”
Further in his report, the Montserrado County District #2 Lawmaker added that the Liberian contingent in Mali is highly commended for excellent performance and all military attributes in the discharge of their duties.
According to him, the Contingent discourse a high mark with the United Nations and leaders of the African contingencies which has transcended into a green light from the UN that Liberia platoon size is double.
However, he said it seems a bit difficult now because the Liberian Contingent is “regrettably” lacking the requisite military hardware or logistics to ensure the practical mobility and capability which is a prerequisite to qualify for such expansion in size.
He, along with Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County – a member of the Senate Defense Committee, represented the Legislature at the medal parade that brought together military personnel from various countries on March 13 this year.
“Realizing that the army is experiencing attrition, which in itself is a deduction of the total strength, and having done no recruitment over the last two fiscal years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, and the lack of logistics, this poses an exigent need for a joint committee of both Houses’ Defense committees to prioritize the necessary budgetary appropriation to enhance the capabilities of our military.”Rep. Jimmy W. Smith (CDC, District #2, Montserrado County)
Participating in World Deadliest Peacekeeping Mission
Meanwhile, it has been almost seven years since Liberia sent its first peacekeeping troops in Mali following 14 years of civil war, which was characterized by the use of child soldiers by rival warlords and rampant human rights abuses.
The Mali mission is the first since Liberia rebuilt its army from scratch after the civil war and the second in its history, after it sent peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1960s.
Since the deployment of its first troops in June 2013 under the administration of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the AFL continues to be an integral part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which was established by Security Council resolution 2100 of in April 2013 to support political processes in that country and carry out a number of security-related tasks.
The high marks of the mission came in 2017 when the troops in Mali’s troubled town of Timbuktu was attacked by Jihadists, killing four including a member of the AFL, and injuring several others.
In the past years, over 100 peacekeepers have been killed — making the UN mission in Mali, the world body’s deadliest ongoing peace operation.