As Liberia and the world eagerly await the United Nations Mission in Liberia to finalize its drawdown operations within 15 days, it is worrisome to hear reports that the Armed Forces of Liberia is facing serious logistical problems which if left unattended could impact the performance of our military’s ability to contain internal and external conflicts.
According to investigations gathered by this paper, the military seems to be suffering serious setbacks, especially those personnel residing in the Edward Binyan Kesselly Military Barracks. The Defense Ministry has even admitted that EBK Barracks has been in total darkness for about a week now due to lack of money to buy fuel for the generator. To make matter worse, it is said that the EBK Barracks lacks safe drinking water. The situation has caused soldiers to flee the EBK Barracks for neighboring communities in search of better living facilities. Explaining the harsh situation to Capitol Times, Defense Ministry authorizes lay the blame squarely on budgetary cuts. According to them, the EBK Barracks’ annual budgetary allotment has been slashed from $110K to $35K. This paper also gather, as a result of further inquiries, a major undercurrent of the mass exodus of soldiers deserting the EBK Barracks is dissatisfaction over poor salaries and benefits. The soldiers, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said they feel let down by Defense authorities who promised them one thing when they joined the Army but fail to live up to their promises. For us at the Capitol Times, the welfare of these gallant men and women who have taken oath to serve our country must be prioritized. It is equally important to do so, given the backdrop our most recent ugly past. As we forge closer to elections, it is equally important that government takes serious cognizance of the crucial role the military and other security forces would play in maintaining the peace, given the fact that UNMIL’s presence here will be gradually reduced to observatory functions. It also beats the imagination why the government of Liberia and the international community would invest millions of tax payers’ monies training an army, but leaving the welfare of the very army to the whims of the elements. These are some of the same conditions that created the 1980 military monstrosity.