Ensuring Sustainable Support for the New AFL

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In 2006, three years after the end of Liberia’s civil war that spanned more than a decade, the country began to lay the foundation for a new and modern Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

With the support of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Peo­ple’s Republic of China, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Rwanda, and other friendly countries, the building block of the emerging pyramid of Liberia’s new Armed Forces was launched.

Indeed, the new Liberian military, named and styled “A Force for Good,” reflects the desire of the citizenry for a new, accountable and disciplined military force to protect and defend the nation and its territorial integrity.

The new AFL was born out of the will of the Liberian people for genuine democ­racy, peace, and development and, especially, respect for human rights – a cardinal ob­ligation which the old AFL sadly failed to uphold.

This is why we applaud the Government of Liberia for the progress made thus far in not only enhancing the capabilities of the country’s new military, but also ensuring that well educated, professional, and experienced Liberians of impeccable moral acumen ascend to the top leadership and other command structures of the new AFL.

We are further encouraged by the fact that the appointment of the new leadership of the AFL was based on merit. All those selected were meticulously screened by the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government, and by other stakeholders.

The availability of learning and other capacity-building opportunities to suitably qualified personnel of the new AFL, at colleges and universities at home and abroad, is paramount to maintaining a functional and capable Liberian military.

The appointment, therefore, of a young Liberian Airborne Officer, with a graduate degree from the United States Command and General Staff College at Fort Leaven­worth, Kansas, can be considered a step in the right direction in the rebuilding of the country’s military.

In the new AFL, unlike the old, entry requirements include the completion of high school, to enhance the attainment of high professional standards. Additionally, pos­session of a college degree remains a prerequisite to qualification as a Commissioned Officer.

Other lower- and high-ranking officers of the new AFL are also graduates of mili­tary institutions around the world, and are currently serving with distinction, being fully prepared to protect the country’s democratic gains.

Indeed, the appointment of Brigadier General Daniel Dee Ziankhan, Jr. as the AFL’s new Chief of Staff, replacing Major General Suraj Alao Abdurrahman who, for the past seven years, ably and credibly served as Command Officer-in-Charge of the AFL, is a welcome gesture.

That a Liberian citizen has now been chosen to replace Abdurrahman – a Nigerian Army veteran international military guru, and a distinguished product of world-class universities and colleges such as Cambridge and Harvard Universities – demonstrates that Brig. Gen. Ziankhan is a suitable and competent choice.

We also wish to publicly acknowledge and laud the pivotal role being played in the reinvigoration and training of the new National Army by De­fense Minister Brownie J. Samukai Jr., whose demonstrated foresight, good lead­ership skills, and credible wealth of professional experience, over the years, has gen­erated multiple benefits and respect not just for the AFL, but Liberia as a nation.