News: 16 AFL soldiers receive unit public affairs representative training
Story by 1st Lt. Mark Lazane
EDWARD BINYAH KESSELLY MILITARY BARRACKS, Liberia - For the first time, 16 armed forces of Liberia soldiers received unit public affairs representative training at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks, April 2-6.
The soldiers learned basic news writing techniques, interview processes, media relations and basics of photographic journalism, among other skills.
The goal of the course was to establish a group of trained individuals within the AFL to tell the army story, according to AFL 1st Lt. Dessaline Allison, headquarters AFL public affairs officer.
The unit public affairs representatives were trained by both Allison, a 2010 graduate of the public affairs qualification course at the U.S. Defense Information School, Fort George Meade, Md., and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Lazane of Apple Valley, Calif., a public affairs mentor to the AFL and member of Operation Onward Liberty, a group of approximately 50 U.S. military personnel who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law, and is a force for good among the Liberian people.
Most of the soldiers who received the training will maintain their differing military occupational specialties, but will also be able to report about their unit’s activities, accomplishments and contributions, helping the AFL better inform the people of Liberia regarding AFL activities, said Allison.
Pfc Boye Mussah, an AFL photographer, was one of the graduates of the training.
“For me personally, this training was essential, because it’s the first type of public affairs training I have been given,” said Mussah, formerly an AFL military policeman. “This training helps me not only as a photographer, but also as a public affairs specialist. After this course, I am better prepared to tell the AFL story.”
One of the important topics in the course was the importance of having public affairs-trained soldiers capable of reporting on AFL activities, said Mussah.
“I look at public affairs work in a new dimension after this training,” said Mussah. “I used to look at public affairs through my photo lens only, but now I realize, there is much more to it than that. I recognize that writing, speaking with others and representing the AFL in a positive light are all elements of an effective public affairs program.”
The development of qualified, knowledgeable public affairs personnel within the AFL is a work in progress, but after receiving focused, basic, public affairs training, the AFL has taken yet another large step in their ongoing development.