By: MARK B. DUMBAR (Intern)
MONROVIAMarking the 65th Armed Forces Day celebration on Friday, February 11, at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia with hundreds of guests in attendance to observe the colorful and historic occasion which was also witnessed by the commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), President, Dr. George M. Weah and score of government officials including the Vice President, Ma. Jewel Howard –Taylor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, and dozens of government officials were all present, added the beauty of reflection of a prepared force to perform the given task.
At 6am people from all works of life as well as local and foreign journalists gathered at the Barclay Training Center to witness and cover this colorful and historic occasion as members of the National Army, and paramilitary men and women were blissfully parading the stretch of the BTC, and hundreds watched the program in a hilarious manner.
Meanwhile, Former ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo serves as the Orator of the day, marking the 65th Armed Forces day celebration.
History of the Armed Forces of Liberia
On August 31 1832 Agent of the colony Jehudi Ashmun, organized the first Militia Defense Force in Liberia.
Today, the modern Armed Forces of Liberia has its origin in the Liberia Frontier Force (LFF), which was established during the administration of Arthur Barclay in 1908. The force was comprised of 500 men whose mission was originally “to patrol the borders in the hinterland (against British and French territorial expansion) and to protect and prevent disorder.”
In 1965, the Liberia Frontier Force became the Liberian National Guard. The concept of the formation of the Liberian National Guard was to transition from tax collection to the provision of national security for the citizens and residents of Liberia.
Meanwhile, the Liberia Government contributed 5 contingents that were attached to the Nigerian Brigade. The 1st contingent was under the command of Colonel Henry Korboi Johnson. Therefore, the 3rd contingent landed in Congo on August 1, 1961 under the command of Colonel James Dean. Finally, the 5th contingent landed in Congo on October 2, 1962 and remained until the pull out of the Liberian peacekeepers in March 16, 1963.
During 1970, the Liberian National Guard became the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The mission of the Armed Forces of Liberia
Historically, the mission of the Armed Forces of Liberia has been to defend and guard the country’s borders, safeguard the population from exterior belligerence.
How the Armed Forces Day Came Into Being:
According to a military book, entitled, “The History of the Liberian Armed Forces Day” before February 25, 1955, there was no Armed Forces Day as such, except the country and militia units, each of which had its own quarterly parade day enacted by law.
During those days, the regular Army then called the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF), used to combine with the units of the national militia to have a joint parade on a special occasions, such as Independence Day, Inauguration Day.
However, in 1954, the late colonel Francis M Dean, then Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), recommended in his annual report to the Defense authority that a day be set aside by an act of the National Legislature to be styled and known as “Old Soldier Army Festival” On this day the unit of the Liberian Armed Forces throughout the nation would assemble at their respective headquarters to jointly participate in field ceremonies of parades and other planned military exercises.
How February 11 Was Chosen As Armed Forces Day
During the session of the Liberian legislature, they met in session to consider colonel Dean’s recommendation for legislative performance, as they suggested that a month and date to be set aside as Army Festival is inappropriate.
Instead, a month and date with some historical events in which a member or members of the Armed Forces had performed some marvelous deeds in the supreme interest of the nation and its people.
However, due to the incident of the first commander of the Liberian Frontier Force Major McKay Cadell in 1909 February 11, this day was set an Armed Forces Day in Liberia.
On January 26, 1957, the appropriate rectification was made in the Act. Now, every February 11, is National Holiday for the Liberia National Armed Forces of Liberia. (AFL)