President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called for more military support from the U.S. Government through the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, terming the partnership as very strategic in maintaining peace with Liberia’s neighbors and within the sub-region.
As part of that collaboration, the President wants the U.S. to consider training Liberians on home soil, naming the Todee Military Barracks as a possible training site when rehabilitated, as the facility had served the purpose before its destruction as the result of the conflict.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader told the five-member AFRICOM delegation, led by U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham, that it is her vision to see the military performing social service through its Engineering Battalion, which she said would be realized through the US-Liberia partnership.
President Sirleaf also named effective border patrol, combating drug trafficking and commitment to regional peace as outcomes of the partnership, and expressed the hope that the collaboration would also see it as vital in the country’s democratic process.
Responding, General Ham expressed satisfaction over “Operation Restore Hope,” which is being executed by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) along the Liberia-Ivorian border.
General Ham said his country will always work with the Liberian Government in building and maintaining a professional army. He included the sharing of maritime intelligence, joint military exercises, personnel and systems development as areas of interest.
The AFRICOM Chief also expressed interest in border patrol, and agreed with President Sirleaf of the need to capacitate the AFL Engineering Battalion.
According to General Ham, President Sirleaf’s vision for a not only gun-carrying army but for its members to engage in social service or other engineering works could not be over-emphasized. He committed his force to working with the Government in achieving the vision.
Accompanying General Ham were: the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Ambassador Michael Arietti; AFRICOM J4, Brigadier General James Johnson; Mr. Mark Swayne, Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Col. Sue Ann Sandusky, Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché.
Joining President Sirleaf for the meeting were: the Minister of National Defense, Brownie Samukai; the AFL Command Officer-in-Charge, Major General Suraj Abdurrahman; and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Dr. Edward B. McClain, Jr.