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TRANSCRIPT: AFRICOM Commander Receives Liberia's Highest Military Honor from Liberian President
<i>Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presented the Distinguished Service Order Medal of the Armed Forces of Liberia to General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), during the Liberian Armed Forces Day Ceremony on
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presented the Distinguished Service Order Medal of the Armed Forces of Liberia to General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), during the Liberian Armed Forces Day Ceremony on February 11, 2011.

Ward praised the development and professionalism of the Armed Forces of Liberia and accepted the award on behalf of the government of the United States of America, the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Africa Command and the U.S. military service members who have supported Liberia's security and defense sector reform initiatives that began in 2006.

Acknowledging the pride the Liberian citizens have in their military, Ward said, "Liberian citizens in every corner of this land continue to count on you to protect them and provide them with a safe environment, that they may work, go to school, raise their families without fear or trepidation, where their militaries serve as their protectors and not their oppressors. Soldiers, sailors, you make a difference. Build your military legacy. You set the example for your society by what you do and how you do it. Do it proudly. Do it knowing that you serve on behalf of your fellow citizens -- not above them, but beside them."

The complete transcript of his acceptance speech is below.

For additional information:

U.S. Military Security Assistance in Liberia Progresses (October 27, 2010)

Liberian President Receives Michigan Guard, AFRICOM Delegations in Monrovia (October 28, 2010) GENERAL WILLIAM E. WARD: (In progress) -- because I know my teammates out there on the parade field are ready to do some moving and get out of the sun. But I will not begin without acknowledging your presence. It is absolutely fantastic. Your performance, your appearance, your discipline is exactly what makes the people of this great country so proud. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for who you are. But most importantly, thank you for how you conduct yourselves, reflecting the words of the minister of Nigeria and what he said about being a professional force. Well done. (Applause.) Your Excellency, Madame President, the Republic of Liberia, the commander-in-chief of this outstanding outfit, the former chairman of the transitional government (Chairman Gyude Bryant), Vice President (Joseph) Boakai, Minister (Browni) Samukai, Minister (Adetohunbo) Kayode (Nigeria's Minister of Defense), my good friend in the COIC (Commanding Officer in Charge), Major General Abdurrahman, distinguished members of the Liberian house of representatives and the senate, and other distinguished members of the Liberian government, my ambassador, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who's here, members of the diplomatic corps, all, the men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and those families who these men and women represent, I am truly humbled and greatly, greatly appreciative of this great honor. Thank you, Madame President. And on behalf of the government of the United States of America, our Department of Defense and all of the American servicewomen and men who have contributed to this great endeavor, I do accept this award for them. Tremendous credit also goes to the efforts and contributions of Chairman Bryant, as well as Mr. Kayode for the support your country has provided to this great endeavor. This has truly been a team effort -- a team of nations coming together to contribute, all in their own way, towards a common goal for increased stability in this very important part of our world. I am merely a humble servant, a simple soldier, in support of these greater efforts. I'm also happy to say that with me today is Lieutenant General Jay Paxton, who as my Marine Forces commander who, under his leadership and the guidance of his staff, those members of our government who have participated have served. And as I look out on this field, I see the results of that service. I see the pride that you have that you, the men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia, representing that entire legacy, sir, as you've indicated -- a legacy of service to the nation, a legacy of service that places your nation and its people above personal interests. And that is something that we all must always aspire to. (Applause.) You have helped develop your military, and therefore, have improved the capabilities of your nation. You have accomplished much. A few things: the execution of an annual training program that will enable you to meet the obligations under your national defense act, all in accordance with the actions of a military that operates justly in a civilian society, responsive, loyal and dedicated to civilian authorities. You have created a legal center, trained an Armed Forces of Liberia legal personnel system to implement a justice system based on no one being held above that justice -- no one. (Laughter.) You have improved your personnel management practices, facilitating the promotion of a significant portion of your army. And for that, Madame President, I, too, would echo the point made by the minister: Resources are required, not in great numbers, but on behalf of the people of this great nation. You've established an emergency-response company that is staged and prepared to deploy in support of a humanitarian-assistance mission or disaster-response situation. You've continued to develop your coast guard. I look out there. I see you. What a mighty sight, when I look at the territorial waters that you will be charged to protect, in conjunction with your neighbors in the region -- such important task there is. You've made great progress. I am proud to be a part of this. Your families, your family members are all recipients of that progress in improved services, education and support. Liberian citizens in every corner of this land continue to count on you to protect them and provide them with a safe environment, that they may work, go to school, raise their families without fear or trepidation, where their militaries serve as their protectors and not their oppressors. (Applause.) Soldiers, sailors, you make a difference. Build your military legacy. You set the example for your society by what you do and how you do it. Do it proudly. Do it knowing that you serve on behalf of your fellow citizens -- not above them, but beside them. (Applause.) The new Armed Forces of Liberia is a symbol of opportunity and progress, a start that will help continue this road to stability and peace. You're a force for good, as Madame President always says. I like that, ma'am. Being a force for good is what it's about. This is what being a professional soldier means -- attributes that those of us who are privileged to wear the cloth of our nation must always adhere to. I thank you for this award. I thank those of you on the field for your service. I thank those of you who support your fellow teammates for all that you do, acknowledging what they do for your nation. I am humbled to be here. I am proud to be a friend of this great nation. And I look forward to that friendship, that partnership, continuing on well into the future on behalf of the peoples of Liberia, the United States and, indeed, the global community. Thank you very much. (Applause.) (END)
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