FORT BENNING, Ga. - A Liberian military defense delegation is looking at ways to build respect in the ranks of the newly reformed Armed Forces of Liberia by modeling its professional relationship between officers and NCOs after the U.S. Army.

The AFL restructured in the last year after 15 years of war.

A three-member delegation visited Fort Benning last week and toured several sites to observe NCO-led training. The visit, aimed at furthering Liberia's efforts to build an army capable of sustaining security as the U.S. transitions to an advisory role, was to observe NCO-led training, said COL A.L. Rumphrey, chief of the Office of Security Cooperation, U.S. African Command, at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia.
Rumphrey escorted the delegation during the visit, which ended Friday.

In the last year, the AFL added basic and advanced training courses modeled after the principles of the U.S. military. Now, the army wants to develop the officer-NCO relationship that it lacked in previous years, said AFL Command Sgt. Maj. Bamidele Awofeso, senior regimental NCO for the army.

Awofeso is a member of the Nigerian army attached to the AFL as part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries.

"Our officers don't look at NCOs as colleagues," Awofeso said. "After what I've seen here, I'm going to preach the idea of officers looking at NCOs as partners in progress."

LTC Waidi Shaibu, chief of staff for the AFL headquarters, and LTC Solomon Gonny, the operations officer for the AFL, joined Awofeso in observing the pre-ranger course, Expert Infantryman Badge program, phase 1 combative training and the interactions between officers and NCOs.

Rumphrey said the AFL would like to bring the EIB program to its ranks.

Because 75 percent of the AFL is light infantry, the EIB program would give them more self-confidence in their abilities as Infantrymen, he said.

Rumphrey said the delegates are learning the importance of NCOs in executing training.
"The NCO corps is the bedrock of any army," said Gonny, who has completed several courses in the U.S. including Intermediate Level Education at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

"When you have a well-disciplined and trained NCO corps, then you have an army."
Gonny said developing the NCO corps is part of regaining the confidence of Liberia's people.

"Over the years, we've had problems with the military trying to use its own power against the civilian forces," Gonny said. "We want to divorce ourselves from that with this new army. We want to create civil military relations and let our civilian population know that our army has changed."

Shaibu, another soldier from the Nigerian army attached to the AFL, said the benefits of building a strong army in Liberia would be felt throughout the western subregion of Africa, which includes Nigeria.

"Nigeria is part of the standby force that responds immediately to any crisis in the subregion," he said. "Once the Liberian army is strong it can contribute to quelling crisis and keeping the subregion stable."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16