By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has commenced a week-long celebration ahead of the 2023 Armed Forces Day with an Inter-Brigade Drill competition. The Armed Forces Day is annually celebrated on February 18th.
This year marks the 14th annual celebration of Armed Forces Day in Sierra Leone. The event commenced on Saturday, February 4th, 2023 and was hosted at the Hockey Pitch, Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown.
The colorful event which started with a national Inter-Brigade Drill Competition attracted the presence of high-ranking active and retired military personnel including the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General PK Lavahun (OOR), Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defence, Major General D. Alpha, Assistance Chief of Defence Staff, Formation and Unit Commanders among several top-ranked military personnel.
In his welcome address, Joint Force Commander, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff Personnel & Military Secretary, Air Commodore M.S Kamara, welcomed all to the kick-start of the annual event in the RSLAF calendar – the celebration of the Armed Forces Day, 2023.
“This year Armed Forces Day will be celebrated on the theme ‘Building a Professional RSLAF for the New Security Environment’. This special day in the RSLAF is to allow the public show support and gratitude to active officers serving in defence of our great country,” he stated.
He said the Inter-Brigade Drill Competition was a key event to start the 2023 celebration, adding that drill is the hallmark of regimentation and bedrock of discipline in the military.
In his opening remark, Joint Force Commander, Major General Dauda Alpha said the event was very much germane to the vision of the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General PK Lavahun which is to have an army that is discipline, accountable, mission oriented and professionalism.
He said that the event is an embodiment of how the CDS wanted to see RSLAF, noting that Military Parade all over the world emanate from formation of soldiers in a way of enhancing discipline.
He went on to state that in 2002/2003, when North Korea wanted to develop some Nuclear Arsenals they engaged in series of military parades and drills which helped them galvanized support from the public including the press who gave them the absolute support that was required to carry on with their plans.
Major General D. Alpha noted that military drill is very important as it hovers around discipline which the teams were going to display during the competition.
“I have no doubt in the panel of judges, five of whom, are retired military officers that served the army with wealth of experience. It is very certain that the judges will have some major parameters that they will be looking at,” he stated.
He pleaded and alerted the all participating teams to be very committed and to ensure a display of the skills and talent that are required of them. He concluded by officially declaring the 2023 Inter-Brigade competition open.
The national Inter-Brigade competition was keenly competed among six teams with each of the teas comprising several military units. The six teams included Force Troops, Joint Unit, 2 Infantry Brigade (from the Eastern Region), 3 Infantry Brigade (host, Wilberforce Barracks), 4 Infantry Brigade (North- East) and 5 Infantry Brigade (Southern Region).
In order to maintain gender balance, the Planning Committee mandated each team to have 10 women as per criterion.
The six teams were rated on different parameters by a panel of six judges including a chief judge five of whom were high-ranking ex-service personnel with one active high-rank female personnel.
The six Drill teams put up very impressive performances with display of skills and high level proficiency.
After several hours of tense and keenly contested competition, 4 Infantry Brigade emerged as winners with 84.5%, 3 Infantry Brigade 2nd position with 78%, 5Infantry Brigade 3rdposition with 76%, 2 Infantry Brigade 4th position with74% followed by Joint Unit and Force Troops with 72% and 70% respectively.
The event was climaxed with the distribution trophies and prizes.