Concern over mass desertion in Liberia army

Friday February 17 2012

By Kemo Cham

As the United Nations wraps up its operations in Liberia, the country’s newly-created army is threatened by a spree of mass desertion.
After its 14 years civil war, the old Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) which was said to be highly factionalised, was dissolved and a new one created.

Following persistent media reports, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last week admitted that soldiers were deserting and blamed the situation on a combination of social factors.
She said this poses threats to the development of Liberia’s security organs, which is being prepared to take over from a gradually-departing UN mission.

The 14-year civil war saw the West African country’s military reduced to a bunch of untrained, indisciplined men and women which the international community has been spending millions of dollars on to rectify.

A total of 2,169 men and women were trained within the last six years as part of the new Armed Forces of Liberia. At least 226 personnel out of this deserted the force within the last few years.
President Sirleaf said: “Greater emphasis will continue to be placed on the welfare of our military personnel and their families in the years ahead.”

The rampant desertion has been attributed to lack of adequate facilities, accommodation and social constraints of long stay away from families.

The US has been involved in the training of the Liberian army from scratch. It is believed to have spent US$200m.