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In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma Assures of Governmentís Commitment to Soldiers
By Bampia J. Bundu
Feb 19, 2009, 17:36
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The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has assured of his Governmentís determination to "continue to fully support the Republic of Sierra Leoneís Armed Force" as it strives to transform into "not only a well-catered-for and disciplined force, but one deserving to be counted among professional armed forces in the world".

President Koroma yesterday shown presenting ĎMeritorious and Dedicated Awardí to one of the Military Personnel

President Koroma was speaking in Freetown at the countryís very first ever Armed Forces Day yesterday February 18th 2009. According to the Defence Minister Palor Conteh, who spoke earlier on United Nations Radio, several Nations around the world celebrate an annual Armed Forces Day to recognize and honour their military forces. It is similar to the Veteranís Day of the United States of America or the Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom, and in many other nations such as Indian, Egypt, China, Iran, Ghana and Nigeria.

Sierra Leoneís own Armed Forces Day will now replace the former Myohaung Day Celebrations which had been held to commemorate the sacrifices of those Sierra Leonean soldiers who fought in a particular battle in Burma. Since the Burma campaign, Sierra Leone soldiers had made tremendous sacrifices both inside and out of the country which is why it was now resolved that effective yesterday 18th February, 2009, the popularly known Myohaung Day was replaced by what is now to be called Armed Force Day, to be commemorated annually. The date was chosen since it was the day on which the Ex-President, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had declared the civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of gallant soldiers, as finally over.

The event, held at the National Stadiumís Main Bowl was graced by the President, Vice President, Government Ministers, Diplomats, Honourable MPs, State Functionaries, senior Police personnel, members of the RSLAF, other dignitaries and the general public.

It was whilst delivering the key note address and handing over of special awards to competent members of the force that President Koroma reassured the soldiers of his Governmentís commitment towards their welfare and development. He said his government will make sure that it transforms the RSLAF to meet international standards. President Koroma assured that "Blue Helmet" RSLAF personnel will soon take part in peace-support operations in Darfur.

He highlighted the importance of transforming the RSLAF into a force capable of fully meeting its international obligations which was why training and capacity building for RSLAF was a priority.

"While we continue to support normal military training at the Armed Forces Training Centre (AFTC), as well as Junior Division (JD) Courses at the Horton Academy, my Government also continues to avail itself of training opportunities from friendly disposed nations. Just recently, 10 Cadet Officers departed our shores for Uganda for Officer Cadet Courses in that country. Such courses will no doubt complement other external training opportunities provided by our development partners" the President confidently boasted adding that there was even more benefits in the pipeline. He disclosed that his government has refurbished the 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce and recently commissioned 200 brand new additional housing units.

Awards were given to SLA18164735 Staff Sergeant Conteh S, RSLAF18164751 WO1 Koroma, RSLAF18164277 Chief Petty Officer Johnson Fredrick, Colonel Brima Sesay and RSLAF (SL 729) Lieutenant P.J. Juana for Meritorious and Dedicated service to the RSLAF.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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