July 7, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Former Head of State in the military government of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) was last Friday (July 3) honoured at the decoration ceremony of newly promoted military officers, among whom was the Chief of Defence Staff, who attained the rank of Lieutenant General – the first in the history of Sierra Leone.
At the ceremony, Retired Captain Valentine E.M. Strasser was invited by President Ernest Bai Koroma to occupy the high table in the midst of other top dignitaries.
Among the newly promoted officers were the Chief of Defence Staff, Samuel Omar Williams, who moved from Major General to Lieutenant General (3 Star General); Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, John E. Milton – from Brigadier General to Major General; Mamadi Mohamed Keita – from Brigadier to Major General; and Michael Mohamed Samura – from Colonel to Brigadier General.
Addressing the officers, President Koroma said the day marked another milestone in the history of the military as it has attained the rank of Lieutenant General for the first time in history.
He noted that upgrading the rank of Chief of Defence Staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) to Lieutenant General was in conformity with international best practice and provided the flexibility to compete with other military organizations for command and control at senior military posts on international peace support operations.
He said they would ensure that state resources were placed under the stewardship of officers with the appropriate rank and experience, adding that what they had witnessed manifested dedication to duty, commitment, loyalty and above all selfless sacrifice to humanity, not only locally but globally.
President Koroma said the senior officers had performed excellently in the execution of their duties and that they had exhibited enviable leadership qualities that have won the RSLAF laurels, both locally and internationally.
“Promotions go with responsibilities and you are expected to exhibit the values and standards of the RSLAF to the fullest,” he noted and added that the current battle to eradicate the Ebola virus in the country was a testimony to the fact that the military was not only a force that was more than capable of performing its traditional role of security, but rather can be used in other roles in the service to humanity, like disaster management and devotion to national development.