MONROVIA: The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) will today, September 21, 2022, receive the prestigious “Alpha 2022 Peace Award.”
The event is organized by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc., in partnership with the Kofi Annan Institute of Peace and Conflict Transformation of the University of Liberia (UL), as part of events outlined for the celebrations of “International Day of Peace”, 2022.
The AFL, according to a communication sent to the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, was selected for this year’s award for its outstanding and dedicated efforts to sustaining the peace and security in Liberia, and the ECOWAS region, particularly for its contributions to the hybrid United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali.
At the same time, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia Maj/Gen. Prince C. Johnson, has welcomed the nomination of the AFL for such a prestigious award.
“It’s an honor for the AFL and Ministry of National Defense (MoD), we are grateful and the award is credited to all soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the military”.
The restructured and new AFL has changed the narrative from warring faction during our civil war to peacekeeper internationally, “a force for good. “
In a related development, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia(AFL) Major General Prince C. Johnson, has disclosed that the force has shown tremendous work towards nation-building and maintaining peace and tranquility in the country and the West African region.
He said new Liberia military, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) since its inception in 2006 and subsequent activation of its sub-units, has been involved in many military operations, including, humanitarian operations, and civil-military operations, coupled with numerous exercises to sustain and meet its core competencies.
He said to sustain these gains, the AFL has begun strategic deployment of its troops at specific locations around the country and engaged with the militaries of neighboring countries on border security and regional control of illegal military activities along member states’ borders.
He made the statement recently at the Ministry of Information weekly press briefing where he provided an update on the Armed Forces of Liberia statures and its involvement in peacekeeping operations.
He maintained that, the AFL has involved itself through the Ministry of National Defense, with national and international efforts toward world peace.
“One of these efforts is our deployment to Mali under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) since 2013, and United Nations Missions in Sudan and South Sudan,” he said.
According to him, since the inception of this government, its continued support to the Armed Forces of Liberia has been commendable.
“The Government of Liberia on 11 February, 2018 during the Armed Forces Day celebration, the Commander–In–Chief and President of the Republic of Liberia, George Manneh Weah promised to construct the 14th Military Hospital,” he noted.
Major/General Johnson noted that, the 14th Military Hospital is the first of its kind in Liberia and was completed and dedicated in September 2021, adding that, the facility is fully operational and provides services to military personnel, their dependents, and the general public.
Additionally, he stated that, the Government of Liberia over the period has provided logistics to the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia.
He said these logistics include but are not limited to twenty (20) assorted vehicles to boost operational capabilities, funding to renovate some AFL Military Barracks, and constructing new accommodations for military personnel and dependents in order to decongest the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks.
“Through the Office of Liberia’s First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Clar M. Weah, a Vocation School for Soldiers’ wives was constructed at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks (EBK) and dedicated on 13 April 2022,” he said.
Torching on peacekeeping operations, MG Johnson indicated that the Armed Forces of Liberia is not only contributing personnel to United Nations Missions in Mali, but also has military staff officers and military observers in the Republics of South Sudan and Sudan.
He said the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), in recent months, deployed personnel to Guinea-Bissau under ECOWAS Support Mission to that country stressing that, the participation of the new AFL in peacekeeping missions began on 22 June 2013 and continues to present.
“It is important to note that the Armed Forces of Liberia’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations has been self-sustained by the Ministry of National Defense and Armed Forces of Liberia from 2013 to 2021 by a twenty percent (20%) deduction scheme applied to troops’ allowances,” he added.
The AFL Chief of Staff disclosed that, this is best practice amongst developing nations that participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, noting that, “the funds deducted was the lowest when compared with other countries in the sub-region”.
He said the funds under this scheme are used for pre-deployment training, post-deployment training, transporting troops in and out of the mission area, and the lease of Liberian contingent quarters in Bamako.
“Other areas involved with the funds are the purchase of uniforms and accessories, purchase and maintenance of equipment (armored personnel carriers (APC), troop’s carrier vehicle (TCV), pick-up trucks, field kitchens, beds, foot lockers, binoculars, night vision goggles, communication assets, and generators,” he intimated.
He furthered that, the defense attaches in New York and Addis Abba are also covered under this fund and include official travels related to peace operations among others.
Torching on government support to peacekeeping, M/G Johnson noted that, considering the constraints associated with the sustainment of our troops in the UN Mission, the Government of Liberia has provided relief through the allocation of funds for AFL peacekeeping operations into its 2022 fiscal budget.
He said the Ministry of National Defense has seen an increment in its fiscal budget of 2022 to about Eighteen Million (US$18 million) United States Dollars.
“This is the biggest increment since Fiscal Year 2010. In this regard, the Ministry of National Defense and the AFL are pleased to inform the people of Liberia that peacekeeping operations is now been captured in the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget,” he noted.
He disclosed that, an initial Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars ($700,000.00) has been approved and provided to the Ministry of National Defense and AFL to fully support Liberian troops deployed in the United Nations peacekeeping operations (Mali, Sudan, and South Sudan). This amount also covers the support to Liberia’s Defense Attaché to Liberia Permanent Mission to United Nations in New York, USA.
“The AFL is to complete the deployment of Liberian Battalion (LIBATT 8) personnel of all ranks to MINUSMA, Bamako, Mali, in September 2022,” he disclosed.
He emphasized that, in support of the ECOWAS mission to Guinea Bissau, the AFL deployed one staff officer to ECOWAS Mission Headquarters last month adding that, the AFL currently has deployed 2 Military Observers each to Sudan and South Sudan to United Nations Missions.
He also said the AFL has 11 Military Staff Officers in MINUSMA and the payment of LIBATT 7 is ongoing with deposits being made to personnel accounts.
“As captured earlier, all funding to support peace operations was internally generated from a 20% deduction on personnel allowance from June 2013 to December 2021,” he said.
He also stated that the Government is now capturing peacekeeping in its Annual Budget FY22 from January 2022 onward. Consequently, there will be no further deduction of twenty percent (20%) from soldiers returning from peacekeeping missions.
“After nine years of participation in peacekeeping operations by the AFL, the benefits include, but are not limited to force readiness, interoperability with partner’s militaries, economic empowerment of troops, information sharing with partners, knowledge, coupled with skills in operating in a joint operational and multidimensional environment,” he noted.
He said the update intends to highlight some key issues or events that the AFL has been involved with over the period.