By: Zacharia Jalloh, Strategic Communications Unit MIC.
The Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces President Dr Julius Maada Bio on Friday, September 3, 2021, commissioned sixty (60) Cadet Officers into the Armed Forces at the Armed Forces Training Center, Benguema Barracks, Waterloo.
The cadet officers were selected among thousands of applicants across the country and 73 of them started training nine months ago.
Eleven specialists (5 doctors, 2 pharmacists, 3 nurses and 1 priest) amongst the 73 were commissioned three months ago. Emmanuel kargbo one of the cadet officers qualified to continue his training at the Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK, whilst one of them dropped off the program.
The President in his keynote address expressed delight at the progress of RSLAF and thanked them for the training of the fine military men and women. He congratulated the 60 cadet officers for going through the rigorous process of transforming from a civilian to a soldier.
The President shed light on the inclusion of women in the Armed Forces, as a critical objective of the RSLAF. "As a nation, we have recruited more women into our Armed Forces over the past three years, and our recruitment of women is far above the threshold specified in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1425. My government has been guided by our commitment to gender equity and recognition of the critical role of women in the future of RSLAF and the Republic of Sierra Leone. As in all aspects of national life, women's voices and representation matter in our country's Armed Forces and my government will stay committed to recruiting and retraining women in RSLAF," President Bio said.
The President went on to recognise the United Kingdom, United States of America, The People’s Republic of China, France Canada, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana Russia, Pakistan, Turkey Liberia, Guinea for their immense support in building the capacity of the RSLAF. The President said that "over the last three years my government has engaged new and existing partners and advocated in the best interest of RSLAF for training and equipment needs,"
The Commander-in-Chief explained that as a nation, Sierra Leone has come a long way and has a proud tradition of gallantry in various theatres of war and peacekeeping all over the world.
The President disclosed that plans are now in progress to secure the necessary equipment to reconstitute a quick reaction force company to complement peacekeeping operations to the United Nations. He continued to say this move will be good financially and personally for the country's brave men and women in the Armed Forces.
"We accelerate ongoing efforts to construct standard and conducive barracks accommodation for our officers, soldiers and their dependants across the country. Along with our partner, the People’s Republic of China, our work on the ultra-modern Myong Officers Mess and five-storey single officers quarters at Wilberforce stands as a testament. It will be a site where young officers will build camaraderie and be nurtured into the traditions and ethos of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. They will soon commission these edifices and other construction projects right across the country including billets and four patrol bases," the President assured.
He concluded by reminding the new officers that, they have now sworn to serve the nation, and told them that it is their duty to respect, uphold and protect the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone and to obey all lawful orders from their superiors without question. "You are soldiers first and always; you are not tools in the hands of politicians and you must never be. Your duty is to protect our peace, our democracy and to support our national development; so professionalism is not an option, it is a way of life for an officer. It involves discipline, loyalty, respect compassion and character," President Bio admonished the officers.
The program was climaxed by an inspection of military vehicles by the President and First Lady and other high-level military officers.