Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Africa Commmand's Command Sergeant Major Meets the AFL

{CSM Ripka speaks to the graduates of Intantry Advanced individual Training at Camp Sandee S. Ware, near Careysburg, Liberia (May 23rd, 2008)}

U.S. AFRICOM’s Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Mark S. Ripka recently conducted a week-long visit to the nascent Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). His well-received visit was deeply beneficial to the new AFL and its officers, NCOs and soldiers.

CSM Ripka spent a full week with the new Liberian army (May 21st-28th, 2008). Over the course of the week he toured all of the AFL’s active military installations including; the Barclay Training Center (BTC), Camp Sandee S. Ware and Edward Binyah Kesselly (EBK) Military Barracks.

At the BTC CSM Ripka met with the 36 officers, NCOs and junior enlisted enrolled in the Instructor Training Course. While speaking informally to the students he answered their questions about service as a career soldier, the role of the NCO and his own experiences over his long and very successful career. Later in the day he toured EBK Military Barracks, the new AFL’s operational base along the Roberts Highway between Monrovia and the international airport.

On Friday May 23rd, CSM Ripka was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony for 506 AFL soldiers who completed Infantry Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Camp Ware, near Careysburg, Liberia. His speech focused on core values of soldering; candor, courage, commitment, and competence. He also remarked about the interest and pride in the new army of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who for the first time addressed the rest of the AFL earlier in the morning at EBK Military Barracks (an event CSM Ripka also attended). After the graduation CSM Ripka traveled along with the troop convey that transported 481 of the AIT graduates from Camp Ware to their new home at EBK Military Barracks where he also observed reception and assignment operations conducted by AFL officers and NCOs.

On Monday May 26th, CSM Ripka held an officer professional development class at EBK for all of the new army’s officers. He shared his views on the relationship between officers and NCOs in a professional military. He also met with all the NCOs. In that discussion he spoke about the role of the NCO in a professional military. This interaction with Liberian commissioned officers and NCOs was a rare opportunity for soldiers in the new army to learn from an experienced NCO who has reached and succeeded at the highest levels in the military and to further develop themselves professionally.

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