The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: Troops for Mali Begin Training

The Ministry of National Defense says it has identified the troop for the Peace Keeping Mission in the troubled West African state of Mali. Liberia is contributing troop to the West African Peace Keeping Force in Mali where the French troop and Malian soldiers are trying to dislodge Islamic forces seeking to overthrow the Government of Mali.

Liberian Defense authorities have disclosed that its forces will be embedded into the Nigerian Battalion that is expected to leave for Mali shortly.

Addressing the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Defense Minister, Brownie J. Samukai disclosed that an infantry platoon of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) trained for combat environment has been identified to take on the mission in Mali.

Minister Samukai said members of the platoon have done their medical and that they have begun a pre-deployment training to adequately prepare them for Liberia's second peace keeping mission. Liberia in 1963 took on its first peace keeping mission in Congo Brazaville.

The tough-talking Liberian Defense Minister further disclosed that before the departure of the troop, two officers of the AFL will be sent ahead to Mali to serve as liaisons. He said they will also be in that country to study its geographical features and other important tasks to prepare Liberia's deployment in the troubled area.

Minister Samukai said to speed up the troop's deployment the Liberian Government has sought assistance from the United States Government in terms of airlifting and rotational of the troop, logistical support among others, something that the US Government has consented to.

On the issue of Liberia's benefit from the Mali mission, Minister Samukai said Liberia's contribution to the peace keeping in Mali is in no way based on financial expectation as ECOWAS was very instrumental in finding an amicable solution to the nearly 14 years of civil unrest in the country.

"During our own nightmare, it was these very countries who contributed troops to ECOWAS who came here and lost their precious lives for Liberia to get peace," Samukai averred. He said Liberia's contribution of troop to Mali reflects Liberia's national security interest and shows a sense of responsibility that following years of conflict Liberia is now positively contributing to the attainment of peace to other countries.

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