Opinion: We Don’t Have An Army When We Don’t Dignify Our Soldiers— A Sober Reflection On The Celebration Of the 64th Armed Forces Day Of Liberia

By: Moncio Robert Wilmot Kpadeh (Sage)

Kim Jong Un pontificates “The military might of a country represents its national strength. Only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country.” As we celebrate the 64th Armed Forces Day, streams of pressing thoughts come to mind as regards the plight of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the despicable conditions battering our distinguished men and women bearing arms in our defense.

Henceforth, Liberians across the broader spectrum are hoping 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 in view of changing the mortifying and disparaging state in which they are engulfed and thus the unquestionable need to dignify our army by bettering the living conditions of the average Liberian soldiers.

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 streams of speeches that will be given at the Armed Forces Day program today will go beyond utter rhetoric and genuinely put the spotlight on the welfare of our courageous and defiant men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia—fearless patriots who have offered their precious lives in defending our nation tooth and nail. I profoundly believe and charge that today’s celebration MUST reflect on the well-being of the soldiers; salaries, benefits, and other needful incentives that will improve the horrible living conditions of the men and women bearing arms in defense of our territorial sovereignty and integrity.

Accordingly, today’s ceremony must genuinely emphasize the compelling need to address the deplorable, disgraceful, and dehumanizing 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 be subjected to. Consequently, I should intimate here, in no uncertain terms, that we have no army if we cannot effectively and efficiently care for our military and 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 dehumanize them. We have no army when the men and women in arms lack confidence and fortitude to go to battle simply because the country they have given up their lives for and taken an oath to defend does not 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 and joy in the various barracks they dwell. By the way, what makes them barracks when the soldiers do not find home, comfort, and solace in them? Preposterous. Heartbreaking. Condescending. Unwarranted. Hilarious. Reprehensible. Disingenuous, to say the least.

In conclusion, the theme of today’s Armed Forces Day celebration puts the charge on the AFL to assist in sustaining Liberia’s fledgling democracy. But realistically, the AFL cannot assist in strengthening our democracy when the AFL itself has no strength and is wallowing in destitution, degradation, deprivation, despair, disdain, and 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 genuine emphasis on the military and the grinding misery it has been callously 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 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 charge which he is under oath to keep. More importantly, however, it must be said that the 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 drawing adversary upon himself.

I doff my hat, tip my heart and extend warmest felicitations to our dear AFL on the celebration of the 64th Armed Forces Day. Salute to the men and women in arms and donning the shining green camouflage and red beret.

Happy Armed Forces Day to fellow countrymen! It is not Uhuru yet!

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