Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Graduation Raises Troop Strength to 1,634 soldiers in the new AFL

{Elated new troops celebrate their graduation from basic training at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia on April 25th, 2008}

Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, April 25th, 2008:

The size of the new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) grew from 1,124 soldiers to 1,634 when 510 AFL recruits from Initial Entry Training Class 08-04 graduated from their basic training program at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia. The new soldiers completed eight weeks of basic training at Camp Ware near Careysburg, which converted them from civilians into soldiers. This fourth class raised the total number of troops past the 82 percent completion point in the Security Sector Reform Program for National Defense. Just one final class of recruits remains. Perhaps the best part of any graduation ceremony is the participation of soldiers’ families. This ceremony was more heartwarming than the previous one, as hundreds of family members and friends remained on the parade field for nearly an hour after the ceremony --- taking in the historic event.

Military Police Graduation (April 10th, 2008)

{Lieutenant Colonel Wyatt and the graduating Military Police of MP Class 08-02 after the ceremony}

The second military police class for the new Armed Forces of Liberia graduated 18 new military police on April 10th, 2008 at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks along the Roberts Highway between Monrovia and the international airport. The guest speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Musard, related his professional experience's and encouraged the troops to serve faithfully and diligently in service to the army and nation.

The graduation will soon allow for the formation of the first platoon of the 1st MP Company of the new AFL. Military Police play a key role in aiding commanders in maintaining order and enforcing discipline within the ranks. No professional army would function properly without dedicated, professional and well-trained military police. As these newly trained military police begin to use their new skills, unit commanders will find it easier to maintain good order and train their soldiers.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Officer Candidate School Graduation (18 April 2008)

{OCS Class 08-02 on graduation day on April 18th, 2008}

On April 18th 2008 the third officer candidate school class (08-02) under the U.S.-funded Security Sector Reform program graduated 18 future lieutenants for the new Armed Forces of Liberia at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia. Upon commissioning the 18 graduates will raise the number of U.S trained officers in the AFL from 27 to 45. This is more than 50 percent of the 88 lieutenants the program is expected to recruit and train for the new army. This was also the largest OCS class thus far. The SSR program will run two more OCS classes before all initial entry training is completed in December 2008. Getting officer training past the half way point in the program is an exciting event.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Instructor Training Course Graduation (April 2008)

{The 18 graduates of the first Armed Forces of Liberia Instructor Training Course awaiting their graduation ceremony at Camp Ware (April 4th, 2008}

Camp Ware, Careysburg, April 4th, 2008:

The first Armed Forces of Liberia Instructor Training Course (ITC) with 18 students graduated from a five week program at Camp Ware, near Careysburg, Liberia on Friday April 4th, 2008. This class of AFL non-commissioned officers and soldiers will serve as part of a core group that may potentially be assigned to the future AFL Brigade Training Unit, or BTU. The BTU is intended to serve as the new army’s training organization that will run its basic training, infantry school, NCO leadership courses and the officer candidate school after the United States Government completes the Security Sector Reform program for the first 2,000 soldiers.

The five week course included classes on effective communication, teaching methods and how to plan for and conduct different types of training courses. Completion of the course is a first step in becoming qualified to be an instructor in the BTU. However, the skills the soldiers learned in this class can be applied to any training. In other words those who are not later assigned to the BTU can still apply their new skills in other AFL units.

Africa Partnership Station in Liberia

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and U.S. Ambassador Donald Booth look at medical supply donations after cutting the ribbon during the opening ceremony for APS at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town (March 26th, 2008)

The United States Navy Europe and Marine Forces Europe paid a two week visit to Liberia as part of the new “Africa Partnership Station.” The two week visit including off-shore training and equipment loading, delivery of U.S. donated postal equipment for Liberia’s postal service, Marines delivering humanitarian assistance, training for Liberian soldiers on the Fort McHenry and construction and repair work by the Navy Seabees. The events received wide press coverage and the presence of President Johnson-Sirleaf, who attended the “kick-off ceremony at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town , toured the HSV Swift and the Fort McHenry and also hosted several senior U.S. officers including the Commander of Marine Forces Europe.

The event was the culmination of several months of planning by hundreds of people and just one of several stops the Navy made around the Gulf of Guinea basin in West Africa. Lieutenant Commander Esly Peters and Sergeant Major Martin Doxey of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation were both instrumental in coordinating and planning the ship visits. For our office the APS visit was the end of a very long three stretch in which we completed a basic training course, an infantry course, Liberian Armed Forces Day celebrations, President Bush’s visit to Monrovia and finally the APS events. Needless to say that while we were excited by the visit we finally managed to get a little sleep after APS left town.

The navy ships may have departed but they left behind a contingent of Seabees who will remain in Liberia for a few more months to complete humanitarian assistance construction projects.