The Informer (Monrovia)

16 September 2009

Liberia: UNMIL Provides Engineering Training for 60 AFL Soldiers

The Bangladeshi Engineer contingent with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), assigned in Bong County, has embarked on the training of 60 personnel of the first Engineering Company of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the Liberian national army.

As part of its capacity building support to the newly trained personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the training being provided AFL soldiers assigned at the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Gbarnga, Bong County, is the part the Bangladeshi Engineer contingent's way of contributing to build capacity of the newly trained AFL personnel.

Speaking at the formal launch of the training, UNMIL's chief force engineer Col. Azmal Kabir disclosed that during the training course, the AFL engineers will benefit from skillful training in combat engineering and basic engineering tasks that will adequately prepared them to professionally carry out their various assignments.

He said knowledge will bolster and restore the confidence of the army to form part of the national recovery process, by engaging in more civil activities.

Col. Kabir told to The Informer that the first phase of the training exercise is expected to last for three months, where engineer commanders will also be trained to engineers' appreciation, and familiarize them with engineer support plan.

He said the first eight weeks of the training will hub on combat engineering, the next three weeks will center on specialized training, while the last week will focus on combined exercise in which students will be judged on practical ground

The UNMIL Chief Force Engineer indicated the exercise is also part of a transitional process in which UNMIL is expected to take charge of the security sector reform program including the training of the AFL.

He disclosed that the Americans, who have been involved with the training of AFL, will be ending their service to the AFL by December 31, 2009, and the UNMIL will take over the responsibility of the training of the AFL soldiers.

This transition, he maintained, was an agreement between the American Government and the Government of Liberia regarding security sector reform.

Col. Kabir averred that prior to the commencement of the training of the AFL personnel at Camp Tubman Military Barracks, a strategic meeting was held between the Chief of Staff of the AFL and UNMIL Force Commanders on August 26, 2009 at which time the sides reached a consensus that the AFL Engineers be trained by both Bangladeshi and the Pakistani Engineers at Camp Tubman Barracks in Bong County and the Camp Sandee in Todee, Monsterrado County respectively.

Col. Kabir stressed that his men were keen of offering their skills and knowledge to their colleague engineers, and challenged the AFL soldiers to be focused during the course of training in order to tap on the skills and training they will acquired.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL, Col. Aaron Johnson, lauded the UNMIL Bangladeshi engineering contingent for the capacity building initiative which he said will help strength the capacity of the engineering company of the army -- a significant component of the army during war or peace.

Col. Johnson emphasized that the training of the AFL engineers would further create the enabling environment for the new army to meaningfully contribute to the post war development of the country, by going beyond their traditional military responsibilities and engage in other civil activities.

He said the engineering unit has a responsibility of ensuring survivability, mobility and counter mobility in time of war. While in the time of peace, it is largely involved with the building of infrastructure and road networks.

The formal launching program to commence the training of the AFL engineer personnel was attended by top military brass of UNMIL and the AFL.

The Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Gbarnga is home to the first Engineering Company of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

The company took assignment in Bong County in early April, following the completion and subsequent dedication of the US$4 million modern military facility funded by the Chinese Government.

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