What necessitated the coming of the multinational forces of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to supervise the security of this country in 2003 can to a large extent be attributed to the ineffectiveness of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)'s ineptitude to take charge of the security of the citizens of the entire country.
UNMIL deserves a loud applause. The multinational troops have since their arrival and deployment across Liberia weathered the storm in ensuring a stable and robust security environment. The high degree of professionalism manifested by UNMIL will forever be remembered by Liberians.
When the AFL finally assumes full control of security control of this country after the withdrawal of UNMIL, the multinational peace keeping troops will be missed by many of those that are still skeptical of the professional shortcomings of the AFL reminiscent of the war years.
Indeed restoring the AFL to the status is a principal challenge facing the Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in this post-war era. Several friendly countries including China and Germany have been making generous contributions towards the exercise, with Liberia's main donor country and traditional friend, the USA taking the lead.
The aim of government is ensuring that he AFL emerges as a formidable force to reckon with. Despite the many training opportunities that have been offered AFL personnel, a mountain of problems remain to be surmounted, such as the provision of logistics and housing facilities across the nation and ensuring that incentives they enjoy are on equal footing with those of their counterparts in the sub-region.
The AFL Day which is celebrated on February 11th of every year is a moment of reflection on the achievements, challenges and rich legacy of the AFL as a national army. For example, sources close to the AFL indicate that government is very conscious of the need to correct some of the problems of low salary, lack of vehicles and housing facilities and patronage and promotion on the basis of ethnic considerations that had in the past tended to reduce the professional morale of the armed forces.
We hope that the promises that the Commander in Chief of the AFL, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has made to the men and women in arms in her goodwill message on the auspicious occasion of this year's armed forces day will be fulfilled before the end of her presidential mandate. Government needs to look into why soldiers are deserting the army to seek greener pastures somewhere else.
Government is very much aware of the indispensable role of the AFL as the national army in maintaining peace and security.
As President Sirleaf noted: "The overwhelming reason for the Absent without leave (AWOL) for short is due to the lack of adequate facilities, accommodations, and the social constrains of the long period of separation from their families. This is not an insurmountable problem as it is one that we must find solutions to."