As RSLAF Battalion prepares for Somalia deployment… Salone is now a force for peace -President Koroma

As part of their commitment towards international peace-keeping mission, President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday disclosed that “the country is now a force for peace in the world,” as he bade farewell to 835 Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Force (RSLAF) personnel who are about to be deployed at Somalia

This historic event was witnessed by the Commander-in-Chief (President Koroma), Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Representative from the American Embassy, family members of ‘Leobatt one’, members of the press among others at the Peace Mission Training Centre at Hastings.

He maintained that the Government of Sierra Leone, in December 2010, vowed to contribute an infantry battalion of 850 soldiers to the African Union Mission in Somalia as a contribution to global peace, as a memorandum of understanding was signed between the government of Sierra Leone and the African Union (AU) in December 2011 that committed Sierra Leone to deploy this infantry battalion and also committed the AU through the United Nations, to provide self-sustainment and deployment support to this Battalion in Somalia.

According to the President, the force was generated in 2011, with support from the United States, the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance provided the necessary equipment and conducted rigorous mission specific training for the AMISOM Battalion, disclosing that after more than twelve months of rigorous training and logistics preparation, the gallant LeoBatt One is adequately prepared and ready to deploy in Somalia, as ‘we applaud the Government of the United States and the United Kingdom’ for their invaluable support to making this trip possible

“Our country is now a force for peace in the World. This is an achievement we must sustain as the RSLAF has show-cased professionalism and has gained enviable international admiration and reputation,” he recalled, as he urged RSLAF to guide that enviable reputation, as they are on the brink to embark on a great journey which the President described as ‘a journey of peace, charitable gallantry and a journey to showcase how a transformed Nation and its transformed Military can be a force for democracy, peace and reconciliations as the “eyes of the world are upon you.

The hopes and prayers of Sierra Leoneans everywhere march with you, as we believe you will do us proud, you are an example of the achievement of this beautiful country of the West Coast of Africa.

He states that the task ahead of the force may not be an easy one, as they will face an opposing force that may test their bravery, gallantry and sense of purpose, ‘but have this in mind, a lot has happened since AMISOM started operations in Somalia in 2007, as AMISOM forces have largely reduced the opponents strength, as the Kenya and Ethiopian offensive has diminished the opponent capacity to disturb the peace’, adding that “your goal is lofty, your mission is noble and the tide is in your favour.

Lieutenant Colonel C.F. Marrah, Commander Training Group, disclosed LEOBATT one is the name given to the body of men ready for deployment in Somalia, as ‘Leo’ is derived from the country’s name Sierra Leone and ‘Batt’ from Battalion, explaining that this body of men, ready for deployment was initiated in 2010 by the Ministry of Defence, as the process was conducted in two phases and ended in 2011 after 954 personnel had been sourced from across the RSLAF, as medical screening and initial selection was done, paving the way for the delivering of the series of training packages.

The Commanding Officer of Leobatt One, Lieutenant Colonel Abu Bakarr Conteh, stated during the vote of thanks, that among the initial strength, 954 personnel commenced final training in 2012, and five personnel lost their lives during the training period
By Alhaji M. Kamara

Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, webmaster@midnimo.com
midnimo12@googlemail.com

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