News: Armed Forces of Liberia completes annual weapons qualification
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia’s headquarters joint staff completed annual weapons qualification at Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks April 2. The joint staff’s qualification marked the completion of a month-long process in which approximately 1,900 AFL soldiers qualified on their primary weapon system, the AK-47 assault rifle.
Operation Onward Liberty personnel were on hand to mentor range officers and provide encouragement to their AFL counterparts. 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.
U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Christopher Brown, AFL senior enlisted mentor, said AFL soldiers should be proud of their accomplishment. “AFL soldiers have all received the same basic infantry training, so regardless of their professional focus, it’s an important part of their military culture that they maintain familiarization and proficiency,” he said. “From the officers and non-commissioned officers in charge of coordinating this weapons qualification to the range safety officers and coaches and the individual shooters, AFL soldiers have stepped up and performed.”
AFL Cpl. Boye Mussah, Headquarters AFL public affairs specialist, shot a perfect 40 out of 40 during qualification, tied for best score of the day.
“I’ve shot perfect five years in a row, including basic training,” he said. “I’m very proud, because I’m a soldier first and a public affairs specialist second, so I want to ensure I’m proficient at our basic skills. After the first perfect score, my family was very proud of me, but they’re pretty much over it now.”
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Dale Highberger, HQ AFL operations mentor, said the AFL’s completion of weapons qualification is another step toward self-sustainment and an indicator of the force’s professional development.
“This is the fifth straight year that the AFL has planned and executed its force-wide weapons qualification,” he said. “OOL mentors assist and advise as needed, but the AFL managed this process throughout and cycled through all of its soldiers on their own. They’re continually gaining proficiency in the management of time, personnel and resources and we’re proud to assist in their development.”