It is said that “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.” This, therefore, emphasizes the potential significance that is afoot for a nation to, at all times, appropriately honor and dignify its soldiers should it desire a brave, strong, morale-boosted, and intelligent military to adequately and fiercely defend its territorial integrity in keeping with the statutory duty and responsibility thereof.
I certainly concur with the several other philosophers who postulate that there is no national duty more honorable than the one bequeathed to the noble and selfless men and women bearing arms and donning the shining green camouflage and red berets in defense of a country’s cause. This viewpoint perfectly illustrates the material relevance of any military, the AFL being no exception.
On the occasion marking the celebration of the historic 65th Armed Forces Day, I extend heartfelt felicitations to the noblemen and women standing in defense of our country by tactically mending our land, sea, other waterfronts, and air space. However, notwithstanding, streams of pressing thoughts come to mind regarding the woeful plight of the Armed Forces of Liberia—with soldiers floundering in despicable socio-economic conditions.
Henceforth, I, like many Liberians across the broader spectrum hope that we celebrate this year’s Armed Forces Day with a deep sense of exigency and expediency—on the need to put a cogent premium on the socio-economic conditions of our struggling soldiers by taking genuine steps toward changing the mortifying and appalling state in which they are immersed and put dignify on their lives and service.
With a heart filled with searing passion for the military and as a daring patriot who knows and values the charge and priceless sacrifice to stand in defense of your country, I pen this piece with the hope that the cascades of grandeur speeches that will be given at the Armed Forces Day program today will go beyond mere rhetoric and genuinely put the spotlight on the welfare of our courageous and gallant men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
I hereby charge that today’s celebration MUST essentially reflect on the well-being of the soldiers; salaries, benefits, and other needful incentives that will ensure befitting living conditions of the gallant men and women fearlessly standing in defense of our territorial sovereignty.
Accordingly, today’s ceremony must significantly underscore the compelling need to address the deplorable, disgraceful, and disgusting conditions plaguing the Beyan Edward Kesselly Barracks and all the AFL barracks across the country. Today’s celebration must solely be about lifting our soldiers from the doldrums of wretched poverty and accentuating them to the glory of socioeconomic buoyancy. Today, we must honor our military, not in the echoes of sweet talks but by honoring the reality of the essential and quintessential need to address the low-budget quagmire the AFL continues to wrestle with every budget year. Consequently, I should intimate here, in no uncertain terms, that we have no army if we cannot effectively and efficiently care for the men and women in arms. We have no army when our soldiers lack the morale and inner tenacity to face external threats only because we unjustly and absurdly deprive and demean them. We have no army when the men and women in arms lack confidence and fortitude to go to battle simply because the country to which they have taken an oath to defend at the peril of their precious lives does not love and care for them in return. We do not have an army when our soldiers and their families are hungry and wretched and have zero assurance of better retirements after service to their country. We do not have an army when the soldiers cannot find hope, solace, motivation, faith, and joy in the various barracks in which they dwell. By the way, what makes those places barracks when the soldiers do not find peace, hope, comfort, joy, faith, motivation, and happiness in them?
In conclusion, as the nation celebrates its 65th Armed Forces Day, the point is made quite succinctly and realistically that the AFL cannot be a formidable force for good in defending our territorial integrity, assist in strengthening our fledgling democracy, and protecting the hard-earned peace when the AFL itself has no strength, motivation, courage, and is wading in absolute destitution, degradation, deprivation, despair, and utter hopelessness.
Henceforward, the burden of responsibility rest on the shoulders of Mr. George Weah, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia to put profound emphasis on the military and the grinding misery it has been unfairly subjected to. If he is the President who presides over the resources of the country and the Commander-in-Chief of the AFL concomitantly, the AFL should not be undercapitalized or be appropriated grossly tiny budgets. It is unwise and unthinkable how the CIC who presides over the nation’s resources cannot ensure that his soldiers are well-off. What manner of Commander-in-Chief is he then? He must be a responsible, generous, and compassionate CIC whose duty is to ensure the proper well-being of the soldiers who he commands and must be devoted and unyielding in upholding such duty. Not to do so, he betrays the AFL and the nation at large and falls short of keeping the sacred charge which he is under oath to uphold. More importantly, however, it must be said that a Commander who doesn’t look out for his soldiers and ensure that they are happy will ultimately not get the loyalty, support, and protection of his soldiers thus risking adversary upon himself.
I doff my hat, tip my heart and extend warmest felicitations to our dear AFL on the celebration of the 65th Armed Forces Day of Liberia. Salute to the men and women in arms and donning the shining green camouflage and red beret.
Salute to the AFL and all the paramilitary parastatals that share in this celebration!
Happy Armed Forces Day to all Liberians at home and abroad!
By: Moncio Robert Wilmot Kpadeh (Sage)
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