News: ONWARD LIBERTY enhances AFL maintenance culture
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers took part in a generator maintenance course provided by Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks Jan. 7-11.
Onward Liberty is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. service members who mentor and advise the Armed Forces of Liberia 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.
During the course, OOL mentors enlisted the assistance of a Michigan Army National Guard traveling contact team to train more than 30 AFL maintainers on generator preventive maintenance checks and services. AFL maintainers learned basic and intermediate generator troubleshooting and bolstered their understanding of the need for a lasting maintenance culture.
“The purpose of this training is to teach soldiers the basics of caring for their equipment,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tim Tramel, a maintenance trainer assigned to the MING’s 177th Regional Training Institute. “In addition to PMCS, we’ve spent about half of each training day covering the importance of maintenance to keeping equipment in top shape over time.”
The generator PMCS course was the second training event with the AFL for Tramel and fellow MING trainer U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Behm, both of whom trained AFL soldiers on vehicle PMCS in 2012. “I’ve seen some promising indicators of progress,” he said. “When we first arrived last year, there was a lot of trash and general disorder in the motor pool. It’s good to see that they’ve kept it orderly and are doing a better job of taking care of their facilities and equipment.”
AFL Pvt. Kolype Saiyon said the course was a great opportunity to bolster his knowledge as an electrician. “I want to learn more to broaden my skills,” he said. “I was an electrician for about five years before I joined the AFL. I’ve learned a lot this week that will help me keep our equipment working for a long time.”
Saiyon said that the work of OOL mentors and TCTs to instill a maintenance culture has changed how he and several of his peers view their craft. “This course has shown me how to fix generators as well as care for them so they don’t break,” he added.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer David Keske, OOL’s AFL Logistics Command mentor, affirmed the AFL’s progression in maintenance proficiency. “This group has been asking all week, ‘When can we apply this training? We want to use it right away,’” he said. “They realize there’s a big responsibility down the road, and they’re raring to go.”
Operation Onward Liberty is slated to end in December 2014, and Keske emphasized the value of opportunities like the generator PMCS course toward ensuring the AFL is self-sustaining after OOL mentors and trainers leave.
Behm said he has watched the AFL maintainers he’s trained grow and thrive, and he’s eager to see what’s next for them. “I’m optimistic about their prospects,” he said. “It’s going to take time, but they can do it. They’re motivated, professional and eager to hone their craft.”