The President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, publicly thanked the Michigan National Guard for their partnership, friendship, and many years of assistance, during an Affiliation Day speech delivered Dec. 29, 2015. Affiliation Day is an annual celebration that acknowledges the progress and successes of the Armed Forces of Liberia, a national military currently in the process of being reformed and retrained after complete demobilization following the second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
During the speech, Sirleaf emphasized the importance of constructive relationships like the one her country shares with Michigan, especially during times of strain such as conditions brought about by the Liberian Ebola crisis. The Ebola virus and its devastating side effects virtually drained the country’s internal resources spurning Sirleaf to travel to Washington in 2015 to meet with President Obama and request enhanced U.S. support.
A White House press release issued shortly after Sirleaf’s 2015 visit confirmed that Liberian support from the U.S. would be forthcoming, in part, through the continuation of Operation Onward Liberty, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative designed to assist Liberia’s efforts to transform its military. OOL was originally scheduled to operate from 2010 to 2015, but was extended indefinitely based on need and available resources.
The Michigan National Guard, as the primary force supporting OOL missions, looks forward to a continuing contribution to the development of AFL skills and strategic strength as Liberian forces assume full responsibility for the safety and security of their country. Perhaps in the near future Guard Soldiers will play an even bigger role with the Liberian president and AFL leadership in the celebration of Affiliation Day.