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Over the past decade, tremendous efforts, time and resources have been invested to restructure the RSLAF. Successive government of Sierra Leone through their development partners (IMATT, DFID) and other friendly nations in pursuance of peace and security targeted the RSLAF through the post conflict security sector Reforms program as one of the key institutional pillars for Democratic stability.
Within the confines of these arrangements, the force configuration and operational focus was affected with the economic and security related views to maintain an optimum strength which will be well equipped and catered for. Likewise, the force operational shift in its main effort gravitated towards the RSLAF’s participation in peacekeeping operations for the enhancement of the Government of Sierra Leone’s wider national interests.
Ten years on since the restructuring in 2001,piles of tangible successes paved the way as the force metamorphose into a potent actor in the peacekeeping arena.
For the past five 5 years, we have exported our human capacity to the United Nation Mission in Haiti, East Timor, Lebanon, Darfur, Sudan and Nepal as arms monitors, Staff Officers, Liaison and Military Observers. The deployment of former troops to Darfur end of 2009 and our anticipated deployment to Somalia under the auspices of AMISOM, monuments our ever ending stride to reach for global peace and security.
The new dawn on the restructured RSLAF does not only cast its light on our blue helmets but spectrum as far as the horizon of our core functions and values are concerned. The military justices system has been overhauled on a rights based approach and the re-institution of the martial system. In perspective, these emerging developments are underpinned by the notion that discipline, justice and fairness are taken home if we are to respond to the democratic heart beat of society of which we are integral part.
In tune with doctrine, the interoperability of intelligence and operations within the force has imposed a more comprehensive approach among state actors fostering unity of effort and dwarfing duplicity. Our engagement in the 2007 presidential and parliamentary Elections through the invocation of the Military Aid to Civil Power (MACP) and the commendations thereafter are an expression of the appreciations, trust and confidence bestowed on the RSLAF nationally and internationally. Even at this height, we believe as a force that there is room for improvement on how we relate with our civilians counterpart after a decade of controversy and animosity.
Amidst scarce resources, the forces continue to deliver on its institutional and corporate obligations in; serving the Nation: Our changing roles and responsibilities in society points at the need for more support to arrest the doctrinal phenomenon of operational readiness.
Without holidaying, commanders at all levels are steadfast to project on the force outfits and outputs. This line of thought strictly conforms to the dynamics of the strategically, operational and tactical construction of our thinking. Thus, the establishment of Artillery, tailoring and the Armed forces Agricultural Units sit between these initiatives. The translation of these efforts is the Establishment review of 2010. Painstakingly as a force we are striving to catch up with information technology. The Africa Endeavour programme pioneered by the United States of Africa Command (AFRICOM) has however served an eye opener to our communications need both within and out. Our data over HF communication platform continue to play a central role in facilitating communication force wide.
As the cornerstone of the force, training permeates the Rank and file. Anew study leave policy has been promulgated to build on the forces human resource base. Our ECOWAS standby force companies are on their routine training cycles, Brigade Battle Schools are undergoing their levels 1 to 3 training, whilst the peace Mission Training Centre has been established to meet our peacekeeping aspirations and challenges.
With its modest assets, the maritime Wing has spotlighted as one of the success stories of the RSLAF and the Nation. The wing vigilance to arrest poachers, smugglers, pirate and saving of lives has gone a long way to make safe the sea environment for sea farers and hence earned the wing an overarching pride. Financial penalties imposed on poacher have also provided a steady income boost for government. Yet still, much more support is needed for the maritime wing to patrol our waters. Pitifully, we look forward to the resurrection of the Air Wing. The force is therefore friendly disposed to discussions and engagement on breaking new grounds to give Wings to the Air Wing.
On this note, on behalf of the Minister of Defence, the chief of defence staff, Officers, men and Women of the RSLAF, we wish all the retirees of this year a prosperous return to civil life and to the incoming cadets and recruits a fruitful career.
By Brigadier S O Williams-DCDS
This article is culled from the Defender Magazine Volume 1 published by the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in their maiden’s first quarterly edition.
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