By Mr. Rick Scavetta (IMCOM)April 24, 2009
MONROVIA, Liberia - Young Liberian supply soldiers gathered under a thatched-roof hut recently at Edward Binyah Kesselly barracks to hear a senior U.S. Army NCO talk shop.
Sgt. Maj. Bryan Witzel, a logistics sergeant major for U.S. Army Africa, journeyed to Africa in mid-April to conduct an assessment of the U.S. Army's role in the Liberian Security Sector Reform program, a U.S. State Department-led effort to rebuild the Armed Forces of Liberia. He also took time to speak with AFL soldiers about the importance of supply.
"Logistics leads the way," Witzel told the AFL supply soldiers. "Don't ever think your job is trivial."
Witzel had just stepped out of the blazing hot sun. He began with a loud questioning, beckoning motivated responses.
"How important your job in the military' When you see your fellow soldiers running around, patrolling and maneuvering, firing on the range - who allows them to do that'"
"Supply, sergeant major," only a few replied at first.
"Who allows everyone to eat'"
"Supply," more chimed in.
"And lodging," Witzel asked, pointing to one female soldier.
"It's supply, sergeant major," she answered.
"What about transportation, whom maintains it'"
By this time, the AFL troops were excited, calling out, "Supply, supply."
Witzel stressed how no military operation can be a success without logistics in place. He talked about the importance of accountability and why forms and standard operating procedures are the keys to a successful supply office.
"You are the force behind your fellow soldiers," Witzel said. You can be proud of the professional force the AFL is becoming, as you are a huge part of that."
Witzel was also in Liberia to meet with Sgt. 1st Class Ringo Wilson, a senior U.S. Army Africa logistics NCO whom the AFL supply soldiers know well.
"I'm glad to see the interaction you are having with Sgt. 1st Class Wilson," Witzel told the AFL soldiers. "I'm also glad to see things you are doing to develop your army."
NCOs from U.S. Army Africa, Combined Joint Task - Force Horn of Africa and U.S. Africa Command have been working in Liberia for some months now, mentoring Liberian troops in a variety of fields, to include logistics.
During his weeklong visit, Witzel met with other senior U.S. Army NCOs, to include Master Sgt. Grant Springer, who updated Witzel on how far the mentoring team has progressed in recent months.
Critical to building NCO capacity among the AFL was to instill an idea among the officer corps that an NCO's role is vital to a professional military, Springer said. The U.S. team of NCOs suggested that during a field exercise, AFL officers should take NCOs along on a leaders' reconnaissance.
"They're starting to realize that NCOs have experience to offer, many have even been to U.S. military leadership schools," Springer said. "We're beginning to see results."