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Army chief laments incapability to conduct air patrol

February 3, 2016  By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Chief of Defence Staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) yesterday admitted that the force currently lacks the capability to conduct effective maritime air and sea patrols.

Lieutenant General Samuel O. Williams was updating newsmen on the successes and challenges of the force in a presser at the conference room of the Ministry of Defence at Tower Hill in Freetown.

He told journalists that the issue had been discussed in detail with the Minister of Defence and that he was expecting a response from the latter soonest.

He said military bosses were aware that such incapability was grave for the security of the state, thus they are currently putting together a document which would outline areas the military needs to build its capability with proposals as to ways of addressing them, for onward submission to President Ernest Bai Koroma.

He noted however that they were aware government is currently cash-strapped and cannot readily provide the finances to buy air and sea apparatuses to patrol the country’s maritime borders, thus they intend exploring the possibility of seeking assistance from China, which he described as friendly to most African countries.

“We don’t really have the capability to conduct effective maritime air and sea patrols and this is a statement of fact,” lamented the military boss, adding that there is a branch responsible for assessing the army’s capability in terms of responsiveness to constitutional duties. “We also know it is bordering on security. As professionals, it is our responsibility to inform the government and the nation and we will do it legitimately through the chain of command.”

With regards promotions, Lieutenant-General Williams noted that they would be based on vacancies and that if there were no vacancies there would be no promotion, stressing: “The chief criteria is you must deserve it and must have worked hard for it.”

He stated that promotions for 2015 were delayed because it was difficult to assess officers who were deployed all over the country to assist in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease, but assured that it would be done this year.

The Chief of Defence Staff also spoke about terms and conditions of service for personnel, referring to it as critical to the functioning of the armed forces as it helps motivate officers and men to do their best.

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