News: Deploying AFL soldiers complete ONWARD LIBERTY-led scenario training exercise
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers slated to deploy to Mali completed a two-day scenario training exercise provided by Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors and AFL trainers at Camp Ware’s Armed Forces Training Command March 26 to 27.
The exercise served as the culminating event of the deploying platoon’s month-long second phase of pre-deployment training and put soldiers through realistic scenarios in which they applied the training they’d received to date. The second phase of pre-deployment training included instruction on combat medical care, sensitive site exploitation, squad tactics and checkpoint operations, among other topics. The platoon’s four-week first phase of training focused on infantry fundamentals.
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 personnel continue to mentor AFL leaders and training staff at all levels to ensure the deploying platoon is properly trained and equipped to succeed in partner-nation operations in Mali and to represent Liberia as a legitimate, capable and professional force for good.
OOL mentors and AFL trainers led the exercise, which alternated squads through various scenarios including checkpoint operations, hasty checkpoint establishment, improvised explosive device identification and cordon-and-search operations. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gregory Starace, AFL AFTC mentor, said the soldiers’ progress in tactical proficiency and unit cohesion has been remarkable.
“When these soldiers first started pre-deployment spin-up in February, they were already well trained but had never worked together before,” he said. “Throughout this AFL-led, collaborative training approach, they’ve matured as a cohesive unit and been equipped for success downrange.”
AFL Cpl. Omega Johnson, 1st squad team leader, said he’s ready to use all he’s learned throughout his training. “We’re all eager to deploy on behalf of the Liberian people and help bring peace back to Mali,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to show Africa that the AFL is a capable force for good.”
Col. David Thompson, OOL officer in charge, said the platoon’s completion of the second phase of pre-deployment training speaks volumes about the AFL’s professionalism. “Our mentors have been working hand-in-hand with our AFL counterparts since 2010, well before the call for the AFL to support its west-African partner,” he said. “We’ve continued that strong collaboration throughout the platoon’s training, and the young men that comprise the platoon have risen to the occasion in terms of being professionally focused and dedicated to mission accomplishment. I’m confident they’ll represent Liberia proudly.”