US troops mentor Liberian peers

Digging foxholes and getting into defensive positions, soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia prepared for a series of simulated training exercises, requiring them to respond to various military scenarios.
The exercises were part of a week-long training event led by service members with the Liberian Security Sector Reform and mentors with Pacific Architects and Engineers at Camp Sandee S. Ware in Liberia.
US Africa Command (Africom) says in a report posted on its web site this week that the purpose of the field training exercise was to assist the soldiers in understanding and properly executing a good defence.

Africom recently sent a Military Mentor Team to Liberia comprised of members from Marine Corps Forces Africa, Southern European Task Force and Joint Task Force Horn of Africa as part of the Security Sector Reform program, a Department of State-funded program designed to assist the Liberian government in rebuilding its security sector, to include its military and police force.
“They [AFL] are doing a company field training exercise but with the emphasis on platoon events,” said US Marine Major Keith Vital, 1st Battalion advisor, Military Mentor Team.

“Each platoon is fighting their individual fight. This is done so they can start understanding how to fight the battle as a platoon. Once they get comfortable as a platoon, then they can coordinate and fight as a company.”
The platoons encountered scenarios involving insurgents probing their lines and refugees, with insurgents embedded within them, seeking assistance. These situations, which are prevalent in today’s world and in the areas where these soldiers will operate, demonstrate the importance of working together as a team and understanding how each platoon will impact the fight.

The lessons were important for the Armed Forces of Liberia, formed just two years ago to replace the former Liberian Army which was demobilized in 1999 after nearly two decades of civil war.

The continuous training, both in the classroom and in the field, is met with eagerness by the Liberian soldiers.
“I’m very glad to see us outside here carrying on defensive operations because we are infantry and we love it,” said Private Ruphus Mah, Armed Forces of Liberia. “Our coming out here is part of our training. At the beginning, it was kind of tedious. There was a lot of teaching, but now we understand the training.”

The exercise wrapped up at the end of February with a debrief outlining their strengths and weaknesses. Their training will be a constant during the next few months in order to meet the Army Readiness Training Evaluation Program standards by the end of the summer, stated Vital.

The training was intense, but the soldiers understood the necessity of honing their skills for a time when they will no longer have mentors or advisors guiding them.

“It is very important to me,” said Private First Class Joseph Akoi, a combat medic with the Armed Forces of Liberia. “I feel I should be one of those who should take the responsibility… As citizens, we need to provide protection for our country.”
Security Sector Reform is part of the overall US effort to help rebuild Liberia’s national defense. The program provides training and equipment to the Armed Forces of Liberia to assist in its rebuilding efforts.