MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers slated to deploy to Mali completed a rocket-propelled grenade live-fire exercise led by AFL instructors and supported by United Nations Mission in Liberia trainers and Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors at Camp Ware’s Armed Forces Training Command April 19.
Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers slated to deploy to Mali completed a rocket-propelled grenade live-fire exercise led by AFL instructors and supported by United Nations Mission in Liberia trainers and Operation ONWARD LIBERTY mentors at Camp Ware’s Armed Forces Training Command April 19.
The live-fire exercise served as the culminating event of the platoon’s RPG familiarization, which ran from April 8-18. Leading up to the live fire, soldiers received training on RPG nomenclature, assembly and disassembly procedures and malfunction troubleshooting.
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.
UNMIL trainers provided RPG familiarization training to AFTC trainers, who in turn trained the platoon’s soldiers. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Franks, AFTC enlisted mentor, praised AFTC’s instructor corps for their professionalism throughout the training. “The AFL instructors ran this training with UNMIL supervision and OOL mentorship,” he said. “They learned the material quickly and took ownership of it, and I think the platoon members now have a solid understanding of weapon basics because of that.”
Franks added that weapon safety was stressed at all times throughout the training, which is a key component of successful RPG operation. “It’s important that they have this familiarization fire before they get downrange and that they stress safety and basic fundamentals now,” he said. “They’re already making safety second nature, so when they deploy, they’ll be confident and capable in safely operating the weapon.”
AFL 1st. Lt. Nathaniel Waka, platoon commander, agreed that it’s critical that his soldiers are comfortable with RPG operation ahead of deployment. “The RPG is a platoon-organic weapon for us, so like any other piece of equipment we have, we need to know how to safely and effectively operate it,” he said. “As the platoon commander, I take responsibility for knowing the weapon as well and ensuring my men and I are doing the right thing.”