News: Onward Liberty mentors train AFL military police
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers graduated from a military police basic skills course provided by Operation Onward Liberty mentors at Camp Ware’s Armed Forces Training Command March 1. The two-week course covered topics including checkpoint control, vehicle searches and suspect questioning.
Onward Liberty is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. service members who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
OOL mentors enlisted the assistance of a Michigan Army National Guard traveling contact team to train more than 20 AFL soldiers on MP operations. The MIARNG has conducted partnered training with the AFL in the form of OOL-provided TCTs for the past two years.
The MP course entailed TCT instruction of the AFL trainees the first week, and AFL soldiers training each other the second week. U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Ed Williams, TCT instructor from the MIARNG’s 46th Military Police Company, 177th Regional Training Institute, said he was impressed with how quickly the course trainees were able to learn and apply the training. “The class was initially structured to be a very basic, MP 101-type course,” he said. “But these soldiers are extremely intelligent and motivated. They picked it up very quickly and we adjusted the course to incorporate scenarios in a train-the-trainer environment.”
Williams was also struck by the level of detail the trainees went into when providing peer critiques to student instructors. “When a fellow student gets up to teach in a U.S. classroom environment, his classmates won’t necessarily openly critique his performance,” he said. “But here, the trainees are very much focused on pointing out every strength and weakness in order to make each other better.”
AFL Private 1st Class Semikeh Gbowee, a military police investigator, said the course allowed him to polish known skills and develop his instructor skills. “Teaching the course yourself does wonders for understanding the material,” he said. “Knowledge is definitely perishable and you have to maintain it, so learning these new skills and being able to teach them to our soldiers ourselves allows us to keep the material fresh and pass it on to others.”
U.S. Army Capt. Mike May, TCT lead instructor, was impressed by the poise the trainees showed. “Even though most of the trainees were junior ranks, they carried themselves at the unit-leader level and were very knowledgeable,” he said. “They’re hungry, eager and experienced. I’m confident they’ll walk away from this course with some new skills and be able to maintain them over time.”