Liberian soldiers deploying to Mali participate in IED recognition course


Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers slated to deploy to Mali completed an improvised explosive device recognition course provided by the US military’s Operation Onward Liberty mentors at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks earlier this month.

The IED recognition course, held on May 3, built on prior IED familiarization and lane exercises, in which squads cycle through various scenarios, to provide the deploying soldiers with additional IED experience in preparation for their upcoming deployment, US Africa Command (Africom) said.

Onward Liberty (OOL) is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. service members who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.

OOL personnel continue to mentor AFL leaders and training staff at all levels to ensure the deploying platoon is properly trained and equipped to succeed in partner-nation operations in Mali and to represent Liberia as a legitimate, capable and professional force for good.

U.S. Marine Corps 1st. Lt. Robert Rivera, AFL engineer mentor, oversaw the planning and execution of the IED lane course. “The purpose of this course was to identify strengths and improvement areas for the platoon and to build on their prior training ahead of their deployment,” he said. “They’ve received basic IED training and seen scenario lanes, and this training built on that. They encountered four different lanes which each entailed a dynamic, Mali-focused threat they may encounter.”

Rivera added that the platoon excelled at the entry control point lane specifically. “I was very impressed with the quality of their performance there,” he said. “I’m confident that they’ll be able to build on that and work on their improvement areas to continue to gain overall proficiency.”

AFL 1st. Lt. Nathaniel Waka, platoon commander, said that the combination of lane training and IED recognition posed a new challenge for his soldiers. “We’ve had training on each previously, but these scenarios were new,” he said. “The course was invaluable for helping the troops think on their feet and react in dynamic situations. With each new course and phase of training, our soldiers continue to improve and grow in confidence and proficiency.”