(Photo:Shealah Craighead/White House)

19 June 2013

An infantry platoon-size unit of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)departs the country on tomorrow,Thursday, June 20, to join the Africa International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). They will be embedded into the Nigerian battalion, with First Lieutenant Nathaniel Waka serving as Commander of the platoon unit.

This will be the first time that Liberia is participating in peacekeeping operations in 52 years. In 1961, Liberia provided troops to the United Nations
Organization in the Congo, a UN peacekeeping force established under UN Security Council Resolution 143 of July 14, 1960,to respond to the Congo crisis.

According to an Executive Mansion release, there will be a formal departure program at the Roberts International
Airport where the Commander-in-Chief of the AFL, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will inspect the troops, make a
statement and a special presentation before the troops’ departure.

Other dignitaries expected to grace the occasion include the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives’
Committees on National Security and Foreign Affairs, the Ambassadors of the United States and Nigeria accredited
near Monrovia, and the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Liberia.

A United States C-17 military transport aircraft will airlift the troops to Mali for deployment after the farewell ceremony.
Already, the United States Government has provided logistics, personal gear and
other equipment to the AFL platoon for the mission.

Under the guidance of ECOWAS advisors and mentors, the soldiers commenced training at the Armed Forces Training
Command (AFTC) at Camp Sande Ware, in Careysburg, on February 4, and for the next few months adequately trained
in major activities presumed peculiar to the military situation in Mali.

ECOWAS organized a military mission, AFISMA, to support the Government of Mali against Islamist rebels in the north of the country. The mission was
authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 2085, adopted on December 20, 2012, which “authorized the
deployment of an African-led International Support Mission in
Mali for an initial period of one year.”

President Sirleaf, upon her return from an Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, on
January 19, which focused primarily on the Mali conflict, informed her compatriots that Liberia had pledged a platoon that would be integrated into
one of the AFISMA peacekeeping battalions in Mali.

She stated, at the time, that Government’s decision was intended to show solidarity and appreciation to the people of Mali and other sub-regional
Member States and peoples who helped Liberia during its years of conflict. Initially, the mission was to begin in September 2013, but after an unexpected advance by rebel forces in early January 2013 and the subsequent
intervention by French forces, ECOWAS decided to immediately deploy the AFISMA forces.

On January 17, Nigeria began deploying air and ground forces to Mali. This was followed by the arrival of a 160-man
contingent from Burkina Faso the following week. Other sub-regional Member States that are now deployed in Mali include: Benin, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire,
Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

In late April, the Security Council
authorized an 11,200-strong peacekeeping force and 1,440
international police to replace the 6,000-member African-led mission on July 1. The Council will make the final decision on June 25. Already, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed
Albert Gerard Koenders of the
Netherlands as head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali,which will be known as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission
(MINUSMA). It is tasked with supporting the political process in the country, in close coordination with the African Union and ECOWAS.

Likewise, UN Secretary-General has appointed Rwandan Major General Jean Bosco Kazura as Commander of the new UN peacekeeping force in Mali. The Mission will help the Malian authorities to implement the transitional roadmap towards the full restoration of
constitutional order, democratic governance and national unity.

This includes the holding of elections in July, confidence-building and
facilitation of reconciliation at the national and local levels

About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. ifiok umoeka says:

    This is wonderful news. Little Liberia is learning to crawl. In no time, this little child will grow to run and jump. I hope u remember the nanny.

  2. freeegulf says:

    good call AFL. NA trained and mentored them, it is only natural that the will choose to serve along NA battalion. a good way to start gaining experience in peace support operations.
    Hopefully, RSLAF deploys in full with the AMISOM in Somalia.
    a platoon is about right. if the over 100,000 NA deployed just a single battalion in Mali, a small AFL contributing just a platoon is also seems significant.

  3. ifiok umoeka says:

    I agree. Better to get ur footing right before u start running

  4. ifiok umoeka says:

    However, sierra leone seems to have made better strides within the same period, don’t u think? Perhaps it has to do with British support!

  5. freeegulf says:

    not really. do not forget that the SRL civil war was ending just as the LBR civil war was beginning all over again.
    moreover, unlike the RSLAF, the AFL was rebuilt from scratch. the sierra leonean army kept its manpower through out, and was only mentored back to shape, in addition to a new name. liberian army however, was totally non existent, not even on paper. they where rebuilt from the ground up, with the help of the USA and Nigeria.
    RSLAF had, not just the british training team, but also teams from canada, nigeria, and others to mentor them and bring them back to shape. they also had the numbers the AFL never had. in fact, RSLAF is still trying to reduce manpower strength, while the AFL is still currently undermanned.

  6. beegeagle says:

    That is correct, Freeegulf.

    We must not forget that it was only a renegade section of the SLA rallying behind the AFRC junta which allied with the RUF rebels.

    Even at that stage in the war (1997-99), many senior officers, not a few of them graduates of Nigerian military institutions, remained loyal to the Kabbah regime and fought on the same side as ECOMOG and the Kamajor militia. Those senior officers are today’s Colonels, Brigadiers and Major Generals of the Sierra Leone Army.

    Something which we often lose sight of is the fact that from as long ago as 1962 when the former SLA Commander and President, General Joseph Momoh trained with NMTC Course 5 cadets at what was then the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna (Momoh’s coursemates included Generals IBB, Abacha, Useni, Magoro, Omu, Bako, Nasko, Vatsa, Duba, Akonobi etc), Sierra Leonean cadets and officers have never stopped training in Nigeria – at the NDA, AFCSC and NDC.

    When RC 40 cadets were commissioned in September 1993, I recall that all of 15 Sierra Leoenean officers passed out of training on the same day, albeit from a one year-long course. They had names such as Kaimapo, Bangura, Siafa etc.

    So the SLA and Nigerian military establishments have always been close since their post-independence histories commenced.

    Yes, the Nigerian Army raised the Gambian Army from scratch in 1992 when their erstwhile paramilitary Field Force gave way to the new national army.

    As for Liberia, we have become much closer since the ECOMOG/ECOMIL forays. For as long as Mama Sirleaf has been President, going back to 2006, all her AFL chiefs have been Nigerian generals. Aside from retaining two UNMIL battalions there, we also have officers and NCOs and instructors too. A few years ago, 200 Liberian troops trained here in amphibious warfare.

    So this pairing is really between a protective brother and his kid brother. We welcome it. Ma Sirleaf has not treated Nigeria badly for as long as she has been at the helm. That goes against the grain of Nigeria’s experiences at the hands of many an African nation. I guess that was what the ‘remember the nanny’ quip alluded to.

  7. doziex says:

    The sierra Leonean army has had much combat experience in recent memory,

    In Liberia, company to almost battalion sized units fought along side the then Colonel Max Khobe of blessed memory.

    They trained and fought along side NIFAG(Nigerian forces assistance group) for years.

    But it was executive outcomes that began the effective retraining of the SLA.

    As documented in the soldier of fortune magazine, crack units were trained, mentored, advised by the EO, as KONO diamond town and koidu were cleared of the RUF

    Due to the Johnny paul Koromah coup, NA and the SLA became adversaries at a time when SLA was most effective.

    And both armies battled hard in lungi, freetown, Jui, Makeni and in parts of Kono. NA always came out on top eventually but NA suffered near defeats in makeni, koidu and parts of freetown.

    The rebel SLA under the AFRC were of course allied to the taylor and compaore beefed up RUF.
    That was heavily supplied by rogue Ukrainian mercs and arms dealers.

    After the war, the UK took in rebel units of the SLA and began a comprehensive retraining program.
    NA, Canada, the irish and others participated in this program.

    Nigeria flew entire battalions to Jaji for combat training.

    Today, units of the SLA are sought for PKO by the UN and the AU. They have deployed in Darfur under the UN and in Somalia, under the AU.

  8. ifiok umoeka says:

    Yes oga Beegs, that’s what I meant.

  9. freeegulf says:

    you re on point my marshal. SRL officers have been attending courses in Nigeria and Ghana for decades!

    even after strasser became chairman of AFRC, and maada bio the COS, there where still senior officers, high ranking officers such as Cols and Lt Cols in the SLA/RSLMF. while chairman strasser remained a capt, juior officers like bio (LT) promoted themselves to brig, tom (2nd LT) to LT COL and the COLs where still in the army without any effective job, or even trying to curb the rebellion in the countryside, incredible!!

    the greatest shortcomings of these AFRC officials where their very junior ‘real’ rank, and lack of staff college training. on the good side, what they lacked in sound training and experience, they made up with youth, enthusiasm, and vigorous energy, especially officers like tom, who was at the defence post, but still constantly morphed up a shaggy demi-battalion and personally led them in battle to rollback the rebels upcountry.

    even EO was unable to train them completely because of the shallow thinking of regime officials. many feared (wrongly), that such a highly trained force would be a threat to the regime. from experience, it can be said, that ill trained, undisciplined troops re more likely to mutiny and attempt coups than a well equipped, trained and discipline unit.

    NA contingents also manage to train them. this will come back to bite ECOMOG in the behind, as most of these guys became adept to NA tactics. worse, they where trained in specialist roles like signals and pioneer. well these pioneers planted lots of mines that will end up maiming loads of sojas. and the signallers that NA trained became very adept at intercepting ECOMOG transmissions.

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