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Liberia: New Army Mobilized to Protect Eastern Border with Ivory Coast, But Are They Prepared or A Suicide Mission?

The Liberian government has mobilized the country’s newly trained military and deployed at its eastern border of the country with Ivory Coast after armed militants attacked and killed seven United Nations Peacekeepers  and eight civilians in the Ivory Coast along the Liberian border.

Courtesy: A Getty Image

The Ivorian authorities and United Nations quickly blamed the attack and killings on arm militants crossing over to the Ivory Coast from inside Liberia. The Liberian government after a recent meeting of the four-neighbor nation group, the Mano River Union (MRU), comprising Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast ordered 10 former rebel  fighters of the country’s numerous disbanded rebel groups arrested or turn themselves over for their alleged in involvement in crisis. The Sirleaf administration had earlier ordered its borders with Ivory Coast closed be the just ended MRU’s Summit.

Now that the army has been mobilized and deployed at the Ivory Coast border on east of the country, the crust at stake on the mobilization and deployment of the new military to protect the border is whether in fact the new and newly trained national army possesses the training and capability  to protect the country’s border.

The Chief architect of the new Liberia national army, Sean McForte, a military expert contracted by the  U S State Department in 2004 through a private US military company, DanCorp to rebuild the Liberia shattered army that was destroyed for becoming a party to the 14 year civil war that ravished the entire country, revealed to the world in his January 7, 2010 in the Foreign Policy Magazine (http://foreignpolicy.com) under the caption,  “I Built an African Army-  Now Here’s What it Will Take to Build Afghanistan’s”,   that Liberia new military was not trained to protect the country’s borders from external threats well articulated in his own words; “our team also understood that the primary threats would not come from neighbors but from within. The country was less threatened by neighboring Sierra Leone blitzkrieging across the border than it was by domestic armed groups staging a coup, as occurred in 1980, 1989, and nearly again in 2003. Such armed groups had gained local support and legitimacy by capitalizing on public grievances: lack of social justice, political exclusion of minorities, economic hardship, unequal distribution of wealth, insecurity, and so forth. Accordingly, the primary role of the military we set out to build was not to repel foreign invaders but to develop and secure the country from within”.

The United States military expert went further to justify his strategies used in rebuilding the new Liberia army by saying, “in Liberia, our team determined that protecting civilians was more important than protecting the state — because that’s where the threats aligned. Accordingly, we focused less on defending the borders and more on protecting civilian population areas. The army would be a simple, relatively small, and low-cost motorized infantry regiment. There would be no artillery, tanks, fighter or bomber aircraft, or navy ships, and limited special operations units. Few wanted a military so strong that it would provoke the neighbors, as West Africa is a tough geopolitical neighborhood”.

Mobilizing and deploying the new Liberia army on its eastern border with the Ivory Coast to protect and  defend the country’s territorial borders from foreign aggression, especially when Ivory Coast had made it explicitly clear that it will defend its borders and country from the invasion of fighters from Liberia, the moral puzzle sounding the army deployment and assignment to defend the Liberian border is how can an army that was not trained to defend the country’s border as in the words of Mr. McForte, “accordingly, we focused less on defending the borders and more on protecting civilian population areas” but the government will mobilized the army and assigned it the task it was trained to do and does not have the capacity, capability, and the equipment necessary to carry out the task of defending the borders of Liberia is equivalent to sending a firefighter to put off a blazing fire without the training, equipment including fire trucks, water, and requisite fire equipment. In reality, deploying the Liberian military on its eastern border with Ivory Coast is sending the military on a suicide mission.

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