By Martin K. N. Kollie
The Liberian people deserve to know the truth ahead of Armed Forces Day on February 11. Liberians remain very vulnerable to heightened insecurity including external aggression. Do not tell me that I hate my country. Bring your facts to counter mine. I am going to use these 4 basic parameters or specifications to expose how weak and ill-prepared the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is: manpower, airpower, land power, and water power.
In terms of military strength ranking, Liberia only tops a small south Asian landlocked kingdom. And it is Bhutan. This kingdom has a population of 779,898, six (6) times less than Liberia’s population. Out of 138 countries, Liberia ranks 137 with a rating of 9.5753 according to the 2021 Global Fire Power Military Ranking.
The militaries of even Niger, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Laos, Somalia, and Congo are far better than Liberia. Isn’t this a shame for a 173-year-old nation?
Here is my proof: https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp
Over 50 factors were used to determine this military ranking or index, some of which include: manpower, equipment, finances, logistics, natural resources, etc. Let us get into it with specific glance at Liberia:
1) Total Military Personnel – 2,200
2) Reserve Personnel – 0
3) Paramilitary – 0
- Airpower (Air Force):
1) Total Strength – 0
2) Air Fighters – 0
3) Trainers – 0
4) Helicopters – 0
5) Tanker Fleet – 0
6) Transports – 0
7) Special Air Mission – 0
8) Dedicated Attack – 0
9) Attack Helicopters – 0
- Land Power (Land Force):
1) Tanks – 0
2) Armored Vehicles – 55
3) Self-Propelled Artillery – 0
4) Towed Artillery – 0
5) Rocket Projectors – 0
- Naval Power (Water Force)
1) Total assets – 0
2) Aircraft Carriers – 0
3) Helicopter Carriers – 0
4) Destroyers – 0
5) Frigates (Large Warships) – 0
6) Corvettes (Small Warships) – 0
7) Submarines – 0
8) Patrol – 0
9) Mine Warfare (explosive devices) – 0
Source of these current data (2021 GFP Military Index): https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength…
Does Liberia even have an army? No, Liberia does not. What Liberia has can better be described as “a military”. In actual fact, Liberia has a brigade and not even a division or a corps. Liberia only has 2,200 soldiers or less. And to have an army, a country should have at least 100,000 soldiers or two corps. The below military units further explain and/or justify my point:
- Squad – 7 to 14 soldiers and it is led by a Sergeant;
- Platoon (3-4 squads) – 20 to 50 soldiers and it is led by a Lieutenant;
- Company (2-4 platoons) – 100 to 250 soldiers and it is by a Captain or a Major;
- Battalion (2-5 companies) – 400 to 1,200 soldiers and it is led by a Lieutenant Colonel;
- Brigade or Regiment (3 battalions) – 2,000 to 8,000 soldiers and it is by a Brigadier General or a Colonel (1 star);
- Division (2-3 brigades) – 7,000 to 22,000 soldiers and it is led by a Major General (2 stars);
- Corps (2-7 divisions) – 50,000 to 300,000 and it is led a Lieutenant General (3 stars);
- Army (2-5 corps) – at least 100,000 soldiers and it is led by a General (4 stars).
With all due respect, the official rank of the Chief of Staff, Prince C. Johnson, is Brigadier General and not General, Lieutenant General, or even Major General. Therefore, Chief of Staff Prince C. Johnson III. should not be decorated with two (2) stars but one (1) star because he is a Brigadier General and not a Major General.
To add insult to injury, the Commander-in-Chief George M. Weah reduced AFL’s budget to US$10.9 million this fiscal year 2020/2021 amid the lack of equipment, logistics, and declining manpower.
The military spending/defense budget of Liberia for 2017 was US$20m, a 4.23% increase from 2016 under former Pres. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Pres. George Weah has drastically reduced this amount to US$13m with AFL having US$10.9m according to 2020/2021 Approved National Budget.
The U.S. Government gave over US$402 million to rebuild Liberia’s post-conflict army. Where is it? Over a billion US dollar was spent on Security Sector Reform (SSR). Where did it go?
These are hard facts that they will not challenge.
Interestingly and for the very first day since 1957, there will be no celebrations this year’s armed forces day because of “COVID-19” according to MICAT even though Pres. Weah was recently watching the County Meet Final with more than 50,000 spectators at the SKD sports stadium. The real truth is that there’s no money to celebrate and not because of COVID-19.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is an exiled Liberian activist, columnist, and emerging economist. He is a former leader at the University of Liberia and a Lux-In-Tenebris Scholar.
Main Photo: Armed Forces of Liberia in a parade