Sierra Leone: Address By His Excellency the President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces

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1.I am honored to be amongst you on this day that we have set aside to commemorate the bravery and gallantry of colleagues who laid down their lives so that we may have peace and security.

We are here to thank God for their lives, to honor them, and to remind the citizens of this great nation of the examples of their patriotism. This tradition of service and patriotism is still evident in our armed forces.

And this is why we are proud of the RSLAF; this is why the RSLAF is today acclaimed as an agent of international peace; this is why the RSLAF is proving so loyal to the constitution and democratic ideals of our nation.

2. Distinguished Personalities, Ladies and Gentlemen, As Commander in Chief, I am proud to report on the patriotic endeavors of our armed forces. RSLAF has for three years now maintained a Reconnaissance Company in the troubled region of Darfur. We have also committed a Battalion to AMISOM; to help restore peace in a beleaguered Somalia. The battalion will be departing in a few weeks.

In addition, we currently have about 30 officers serving both as Military Observers and Staff Officers in various UN Missions around the world. As I speak, there are RSLAF staff officers deployed with the AFISMA operation in Mali.

I am happy to say that from the reports we are getting, they are all excelling in their various assignments. Other peculiar areas of achievement in the recent past have been the establishment of the Armed Forces Tailoring Industry and the Armed Forces Agricultural Unit. The Agriculture unit has continued to make steady progress with record bumper harvests.

These are as a result of your commitment, determination and training. I also note with satisfaction your various self-help infrastructural projects such as the construction of Storage and Drying Facility for the Armed Forces Agriculture Unit, construction of Forward Patrol Base, Benguema Water Dam project, Prefabricated Housing Units, Expansion of Peace Mission Training Centre, RSLAF Drug Store and Mortuary.

As training is a hallmark of professionalism, lots of training opportunities are now open to members of the RSLAF. In the area of recruitment, we are looking at creating equal opportunities for women to be enlisted both as commissioned and non-commissioned officers, thereby enabling them to compete with their male counterparts and narrow the gender gap in the Military. The French language is being included in the Military Recruitment Training Package. This will undoubtedly enhance the professionalism of our armed forces in peace-keeping operations.

Exactly three months ago our country undertook very challenging and crucial general elections. There were speculations at both local and international levels that the conduct of the elections will be marred by violence. In spite of all these speculations, my government was able to conduct one of the most peaceful elections ever held in this country.

The professionalism displayed by the RSLAF was unmatched; and this was applauded by the majority of Sierra Leoneans. As your Commander-In-Chief, I encourage you all to continue to perform your duty with this same diligence, patriotism, and dedication. My Government will relentlessly continue to equip the RSLAF to meet the growing demand to address local security issues as well as participation in International Peace Keeping Operations.

My dear gallant compatriots, we recognize and commend your support to the Sierra Leone Police in various operations throughout the electioneering process. I am informed that the Canadian contingent has ended their tour of duty and has honourably left the shores of Sierra Leone. Let me use this opportunity to register my profound appreciation to them and the Government of Canada.

Let me take this opportunity to equally extend my Government's sincere appreciation for the diverse and invaluable support rendered to the Ministry of Defence and the RSLAF by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, The Peoples Republic of China, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Ghana to name a few. In March this year, IMATT will be transformed to ISAT. I once again thank IMATT for developing the RSLAF to what it is today.

Finally, men and women of the RSLAF let me hasten to remind you once again of your obligation to maintain discipline. The military is a unique institution that serves as a role model for discipline. We applaud you for your gallantry, we honour you for your service, and we are grateful for your invaluable contributions in making Sierra Leone a beacon of peace. I wish you all a happy Armed Forces Day celebration.

I thank you all for your attention.

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