The United States has donated 20 Land Cruiser vehicles and two Boston Whaler boats to the Armed Forces of Liberia. Some of the equipment will be used in Mali.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), received the equipment from the United States at the Barclay Training Centre (BTC) in Monrovia on 12 July.
According to release from Liberia’s Executive Mansion, Sirleaf said the donation came at a time when Liberia was looking into its budget to meet the logistical needs of Liberian peacekeepers serving in Mali. The Liberian leader said the Land Cruisers will enable the AFL to conduct routine security operations and reinforce its participation in the reconstruction of feeder roads across the country.
Presenting the keys to the vehicles and other equipment, Ambassador Christine Ann Elder said it was her pleasure to officially hand over 18 Land Cruiser pick-ups, two Land Cruiser maintenance vehicles, and two Boston Whaler boats to the Armed Forces of Liberia. She said the United States of America has a long and continuing relationship with the Armed Forces of Liberia adding: “We were heavily involved with demobilizing the old AFL and actively participated in the training of about 2,000 men and women from across the country and assisting in providing mentorship and training to the new AFL”.
Elder said that in order to support the AFL’s upcoming rotation of a contingent to the MINUSMA Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, the US Government is providing as a permanent donation a 10 000 litter water truck, a 50 000 litter/day water purification unit and a mobile kitchen trailer. She said several of the Land Cruisers are likely to be deployed in Mali.
In June 2013 Liberia sent approximately 50 troops to join the MINUSMA mission in Mali, its first peacekeeper deployment since the 14-year civil war ended.
She said the US will continue its support through the Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation, focusing on five main areas: defence institution strengthening, engineer support, professional development, maritime security and medical readiness.
The United States has provided significant assistance to Liberia, sending 3 000 troops to the country two years ago to combat the Ebola outbreak there. The US has helped rebuild the West African country’s armed forces since the end of the civil war in 2003. At sea, the US helped reactivate the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) in February 2010. Personnel from the US Coast Guard and Navy provided training and technical assistance and sent Liberian sailors on training courses to the US. It operates two US Coast Guard Defender class boats donated by the US in February 2011. The two new 24 foot Boston Whaler boats have been turned over to the LCG base on Bushrod Island.
Liberian security forces on 30 June took full control of their security for the first time since the civil war ended 13 years ago, marking a historic milestone for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The UN Security Council will decide on the future of the UNMIL Mission by December 15. At the moment, UNMIL personnel are now only acting in a support role to the AFL.