President Weah Pays Tribute to AFL; Says Democracy Isn’t Strong Without Professional Army

Saturday, 11th February 2023

Photo Credit: Executive Mansion

MONROVIA, LIBERIA - The President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah has re-accentuated the gallant contributions and meaningful role members of the Armed Forces of Liberia, past and present, have played in upholding the county’s statehood and democracy over the years.

On Saturday, February 11, 2023, the country celebrated the 66th AFL Day on the theme, "Inter-Agency Collaboration: Working Together for Peaceful Elections."

In his Armed Forces Day Address at the Barclay Training Center, President Weah recalled how the celebration of AFL Day in Liberia is a long-time tradition borrowed from the United States of America.

“I have learned that, in 1954, Colonel Francis M. Dean, the then Assistant Chief of Staff and Intelligence Officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia, using the United States concept, conceived the noble idea and recommended that a day be set aside yearly as ‘Armed Forces Day’  to honor the members of the Armed Forces of Liberia,” the President reflected.

The Commander-In-Chief also historicized that the setting aside of the  11th of February by the Liberian Legislature is in recognition of the bravery and sacrifice of troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia who had ended a mutiny that took place on February 11,1909.

According to President Weah, the AFL has since endured a lot of struggles but equally managed to come out stronger, better, and more determined to create a better Liberia.

“We therefore use this day to champion and honor the past and present members of the Armed Forces of Liberia, because there cannot be a strong democracy without a professional military,” the President opined, adding: “As Commander-in-Chief, I have implicit confidence in the ability of our troops and security forces to effectively execute their duties.”

The President said he has progressively monitored the achievements of the AFL over the years and harbored no doubt that the Army is on the right path to greatness, both locally and in the international community.

He asserted that the AFL possesses unique capacities in supporting civil authority, particularly in the nation's development efforts.

He stressed the need for continuous strengthening of border control mechanisms and that the army remains vigilant against the negatives that could affect the peace and stability of the nation and people.

President Weah rallied Liberians “never to waiver to protect ourselves against extremism and the consequences of terrorism”.

“Accordingly, we must be better informed, and ensure effective coordination and preparedness between and among our military and civilian law enforcement agencies, against any action that could affect our peace, security and stability,” he said further. “On this day, we also remember and pay homage to those who, through their service in these Armed Forces, have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and its Peoples.”

He revealed that the Liberian flag is being carried proudly by AFL soldiers in the troubled regions of Timbuktu, in Mali, the Republic of Sudan, and the Republic of South Sudan

“Other countries where our troops are making contributions to peacekeeping include the Republic of Guinea Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These are all very Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) missions. Our hearts go out to them, and we look forward to proudly receiving them safely back home at the end of their missions.”

He classified the celebration of the 66th AFL Day as a recognition of the unflinching dedication of the Army  to the protection of the nation.

The President termed it an honor from him to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as both a pleasing duty and a proud privilege to celebrate with them.

President Weah used the occasion to thank international partners for continuous technical and financial assistance to the upkeep of the AFL,

"On behalf of the Government of Liberia, I would also like to express our gratitude to the Government of the United States, through the Office of Security Cooperation (OSC), for its continuous support of the AFL. The contributions of China, Bangladesh, and Egypt are also gratefully acknowledged," the AFL Commander-In-Chief noted.

The Republics of Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone are also among counties President Weah thanked for contributing personnel to the ECOWAS Advisory Training Team (EATT), which he said has been serving in an advisory capacity to the AFL, and also for offering training slots to the AFL.

According to him, their mentorship and support to the AFL have contributed immensely to the restructuring and professional development of the AFL.

The Commander-In-Chief made specific reference to members of the AFL "for your discipline, dedication to duty, and commitment to the responsibility of protecting our territorial integrity, and for the gallantry exhibited by you in executing your missions and tasks wherever you are deployed”.

During the ceremony at the BTC, President Weah bestowed meritorious honors of Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on Colonel Washington Bower (Retired) and Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Nah (Retired) for serving Liberia tirelessly as pilots in the former AFL.