Liberia's Defense Minister, Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., says Liberia is not prepared to un-tie what he calls the umbilical cord with the US-Africa Command, AFRICOM. According to the Defense Minister, the presence of AFRICOM's engagement in Liberia will help in maintaining a tacit guarantee of security in Liberia over at least a three-election period.
For the purpose of cooperative security location, the Minister availed a request leading to Liberia being considered for future exercises being conducted by AFRICOM in other parts of Africa. He further proffered the need for AFRICOM's support in setting up an institutionalized training program in Liberia for continuous capability development of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
Minister Samukai, on behalf of Commander-in-Chief President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, brought to scale AFRICOM's immeasurable support to the rebuilding efforts of the Liberian Defense Sector through engagements at the level of Operation Onward Liberty (OOL), the African Endeavor, the African Partnership Event, the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, among others.
Minister Samukai made these remarks at the Kelley Barracks, Headquarters of AFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany where he and his delegation held strategic discussions on Liberia's Defense Sector Reform. During a Command Brief, AFRICOM's Deputy Director of Programs Mr. James Hart highlighted that as its mission, the U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM) seeks to protect and defend the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African States and regional organizations, and when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.
For his part, the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, General carter F. Ham laude the Liberian Government and particularly the Defense Authority for the great task of raising the current quality of army. According to General Ham, there is a growing recognition of Liberia-US interest which is closely aligned.
He assured Minister Samukai that AFRICOM's relationship with Liberia is still strong and will be further stronger in the coming years for the benefit of both countries. Speaking further, the Director of Programs(J5) at AFRICOM, Major General Charles Hooper noted , "Commitment from AFRICOM to AFL is enduring based on mutual trust and confidence, adding, we will not walk away from Liberia because to do so will not only be morally wrong but also strategically incorrect."