News: AFL soldiers and ONWARD LIBERTY mentors conduct command post exercise
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Brigade conducted a command post exercise with the support of Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks March 28. The exercise served as a rehearsal for the 23rd Infantry Brigade’s upcoming field training exercise, which is scheduled for May.
ONWARD LIBERTY is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. servicemembers 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.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. John Edwards, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Brigade mentor, said the exercise provided an opportunity for leaders at the battalion level to identify and work through potential command and control issues. “The command post exercise allows 1st Battalion leadership to get out of the garrison environment and fully coalesce the battalion’s warfighting functions,” he said. “The soldiers experience internal frictions in this environment so they know how to recognize and work through the external frictions they’ll face in the upcoming field training exercise and in real-world operations.”
AFL 1st Lt. Emmanuel Wisseh, 1st Battalion commander, said his soldiers continually improved throughout the exercise scenarios. “It went very well overall and the environment was ideal because it showed us what to do when there are actual moving parts and when we’re facing real threats,” he said. “The main thing that I took away from this exercise is that everyone needs to know their role and see it through in order for the battalion to accomplish its mission. We have some things to improve on, but overall I think it equipped us for success and built up our confidence.”
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Eric Larson, OOL deputy officer in charge, said the exercise provided a key opportunity for battalion-level leaders to recognize unit strengths and areas of improvement ahead of real-world operations. “They need to continue to improve their ability to execute command and control at the battalion and company level,” he said. “This exercise allows the AFL to plan, communicate and execute, without troops, a military operation. The lessons learned in the command post exercise will help them improve their performance in the upcoming field training exercise.”
Larson added that the AFL has made great strides of late in elevating the level of responsibility its senior non-commissioned officers have in leading. “They’ve taken a great step to elevate senior NCOs to key positions,” he said. “The NCOs have really stepped up while several of the battalion’s officers are away at training.”
AFL Maj. Andrew Wleh, Headquarters AFL training officer, said the exercise was executed well and served its intended purpose. “This type of exercise allows battalion staffs and the companies below them to recognize problems and deal with them effectively,” he said. “Training is key to making coordination and decision-making second nature, so that leaders are able to handle real-world events effectively.”