Operation Onward Liberty
OPERATION ONWARD LIBERTY, which began January 1, 2010, is a U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense initiative designed to continue the United States' support to the government of Liberia and its ongoing efforts to transform its military. It is a five-year commitment of continued support and partnership, with mentors cycling through on six-month temporary duty assignments and some service members electing to do yearlong assignments.
Operation Onward Liberty (OOL) is a U.S. military-led team who mentor and advise the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law, and is a force for good among the Liberian people. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively provide and contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
The 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought an end to the Liberian civil war called for the United States to lead the restructuring of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). After consultations with Liberian authorities, a program was put in place that led to the complete rebuilding of the army from the ground up. Principally executed by U.S. Government-funded contractors, along with a small number of U.S. military personnel, the initial effort led by the U.S. State Department, 2005-2009, involved demobilizing the old AFL, rehabilitating three military bases, then recruiting, vetting, training and equipping a new AFL of about 2,000 men and women from across the country. After the contractors departed and the Government of Liberia assumed operational control of the AFL, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), through U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa (MARFORAF), established OOL to provide U.S. military personnel to assist with the mentorship and training of the AFL.
Facts and Figures
OOL currently has approximately 50 personnel assigned, currently comprised of military members from the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army’s Michigan National Guard and the U.S. Air Force, and vary in rank. OOL team members fulfill deployment taskings of anywhere between six and 12 months. The main goal of each team member is to serve as a mentor/advisor to a counterpart (or counterparts) within the AFL chain of command.
For the AFL itself, the current organization consists of an Infantry Brigade, Coast Guard, Logistics Command, an Armed Forces Training Command and a headquarters element. The projected operational end strength is roughly 2,000 soldiers and Coast Guardsmen. The AFL hopes to establish a robust recruiting, vetting and separation policy to ensure its ranks are constantly being supplied with new, eager soldiers as well as experienced commissioned and noncommissioned officers who are able to lead effectively.