MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE ARMED FORCES ORGANIZES SYMPOSIUM FOR OFFICERS AT THE MYOHAUNG OFFICERS MESS WILBERFORCE BARRACKS...........
On Wednesday 15th February 2023, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) organized a Symposium for its Officers in an effort to widen the horizon of it service members to meet with modern challenges. The Symposium was attended by many including the Minister of Defence as Guest of Honour, Senior Officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces both serving and retired with special invited guests who delivered lectures in different subject areas. These include; Colonel (Rtd) Bashiru Sahid Conteh with the topic Leadership: My Experience, Mr Kalilu Ibrahim Totangi from the National Council for Civic Education and Development with the topic National Purpose-Values, Interests and Objectives: the RSLAF in Focus, Mr Francis Langumba Keili-Chief of Staff, Office of National Security (ONS) presented on the topic the Impact of Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) on National Security in Sierra Leone: the RSLAF in Perspective. Madam Michaella Mackey Director of Science Technology and Innovation who was ablely represented by her Chief Operations Officer with the topic and Mr Abdul Mohamed Fatoma Founder and CEO Campaign for Human Rights Development International (CHRDI) with the topic: The Importance of Gender Mainstreaming in the Security Sector Reform.
Brig Gen AI Bangura posing a question Col (Rtd) BS Conteh Guest Presenter
The Minister of Defence Brigadier General (Rtd) KH Conteh who served as the Guest of Honour, in his welcoming address commended the Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General PK Lavahun for his visionary leadership in striving to build an Armed Forces that would remain diligent, accountable, mission-oriented and deeply rooted in professionalism. He furthered that the traditional annual Armed Forces Day Celebrations was expected to allow the public to show support and gratitude to the Officers, Men and Women of the RSLAF serving in defence of Sierra Leone including their families and ex-service personnel. He added that one of the key objectives of this year’s event is to expand public understanding of the RSLAF’s roles in national defence, security and development.
He stressed that, “in the years ahead, development will take place when our country is peaceful and calm. Hence, efforts of the RSLAF should be galvanized towards reshaping the Armed Forces to deliver enhanced security that is required in the country; develop home-grown doctrine, reorganize all training curricula; build effective leadership education for all ranks, improve the defence estates and infrastructure, as well as revamping the Ex-Service Men and Women’s Association amongst others”.
Commodore MS Kamara delivering his Col RR Gbondo making a comment
Brigadier General (Rtd) KH Conteh talked about the theme for the 14th Armed Forces Day Celebration which was “Building a Professional RSLAF for the New Security Environment”. He also affirmed that he was happy and believed that the theme was carefully chosen to effectively project the RSLAF’s future to meet contemporary security challenges, especially when we are approaching the Presidential and general elections. He encouraged all to continue demonstrating a high sense of mission-readiness to enhance a national security and development, thereby portraying the RSLAF as an instrument of national unity, integration and development. He further remarked that the symposium marked the commencement of the Armed Forces Day Celebrations and several events have been planned for the next 7 days. The event will provide a knowledge-sharing platform and an interactive framework among guest speakers and officers of the RSLAF. He finally declared the Symposium open and further announced the commencement of the Armed Forces Day Celebrations 2023.
Col SM Conteh making a comment Mr Francis L Keili Guest Presenter
The Symposium commenced in the midst of hundreds of RSLAF Officers ready to learn from the guest speakers. The first presenter was Col (Rtd) BS Conteh who presented on the topic Leadership: my Military Experience. In the introductory stage, he mentioned that “leadership is a vital management function, it provides clarity and guidance, military leadership is critical because commanders must live up to the highest expectation during their career”. He defined leadership according to Colin Powell as “Leadership is solving problems. The days soldiers stop bringing you their problems, is the day you have stopped leading them.” John Maxwell “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” Peter Drucker defines leadership as “the lifting of a man’s vision to a higher sight, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard and the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations”.
The Retired Colonel pointed out the qualities of a leader that includes; Vision, Courage, Sound Judgment, Compassion, Initiative, Knowledge and many more. He retrospect on his own personal experience comparative to other leaders thereby presenting a broader picture for easy of understanding on the concept of leadership. He also touched on his appointments held since he was commissioned until his retirement from active service some years ago. In conclusion, Col (Rtd) BS Conteh reiterated that,” leadership is the Be known and Do for the very best of your ability”, “this is the key stone of building morale and drive outstanding performance in our units during our entire military career”.
Col RS Conteh posing a question
The second presenter was Mr Kalilu Ibrahim Totangi who presented on the topic National Purpose, Values, Interests and Objectives: The RSLAF in Focus. He defined national purpose under the following headings; Secret of a Nation, Green Revolution, Vision 2025 under the Ex-President Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabba’s administration, United People-Progress Nation- Attractive County, Agenda for Change and Prosperity now the New Direction Agenda. He talked about values, beliefs and concept that were significant and worthwhile. Acceptable standards or norms and culture of the nation. He also touched on the significance of Civic Values, which guides decision making, manifestation of values, where they stand for the right things. The National Objective or aim was derived from national goals and interests, towards which a national policy or strategy was directed and efforts with resources of the nation were applied.
National Interests he said concerns of a nation as a whole held to be an independent entity separated from the interests of secondary areas or groups and also of other nations or supranational groups. (Trade, territory, economic, etc) and that Civics (often called citizenship education) may be defined as educating citizens, from early childhood, to become more responsible, clear-thinking, and enlightened members, capable of creative thinking and critical analysis in making informed decisions about themselves and participating effectively in societal development. It also prepares young people for the challenges and opportunities of rapidly changing behaviours of economies and technological world. Citizenship education aims at producing the citizen who: has respect for others, recognises and appreciates the equality of all human beings (radical inclusion), has concern for other people, regard for rules and laws, opposes all forms of discrimination, promotes a spirit of cooperation, tolerance and peace in society, an awareness of their rights and responsibilities in a democracy and can meaningfully contribute to the national economic growth through self-development. He furthered that “the RSLAF’s primary role and mission is to defend Sierra Leone’s territorial integrity against external aggressors”. That the Military roles in developing countries were numerous, complex, and highly variable both in specific details and how those details change through time (eg. search and rescue, humanitarian relief, agriculture, peace keeping operations etc).
Col RR Gbondo making a comment Mr Kalilu I Totangi Guest Presenter
Mr Francis Langumba Keili Chief of Staff, Office of National Security (ONS), presented on the topic: Impact of Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) on National Security in Sierra Leone: the RSLAF in Perspective. He said “according to the 1991 constitution, the principal functions of the Armed forces shall be to: Guard and secure the Republic of Sierra Leone, preserve the safety and territorial integrity of the State, participate in its development so as to safeguard the people’s achievements and to protect the constitution”. He defined Military Aid to Civil Power (MACP) as the provision of military assistance (armed if appropriate) to the civil power in its maintenance of law, order and public safety, using specialist capabilities or equipment, in situations beyond the capabilities of the civil power.
The fourth speaker was Madam Mamie Monjama Alpha who delivered on the topic: Leveraging Emerging Technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to Enhance National Security in Sierra Leone: Strategic Options for the RSLAF. She talked on DSTI/RSLAF potential areas of partnership. She also emphasized on the establishment of Digital Learning Hubs at Barracks and Deployment of E Learning Passport. This would impact the RSALF in the following; Ministry of Basic Secondary School Examination instance Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE) and West Africa School Certificate Examination (WASCE) learning, HCD (drone, e upshifts etc). Other areas of partnership with the RSLAF include; Content development specific to RSLAF needs, improved community interaction, managing military assets and personnel, analyzing military intelligence, digitize internal processes and procedures e.g loan applications training (cyber security, emergency response etc), implementing military-grade encryption and firewalls. Drone Technology for surveillance of unmanned borders, improving medicine deliveries to military health centers, training military officers, real time assessment of security threats among others.
Col MBS Kamara posing a question Maj Julian Kamara posing a question
She added that “it is important to note that these solutions/applications should be part of a comprehensive strategy that includes regular monitoring, testing and updating of the communication systems to keep pace with the evolving needs of the organization and also to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information. DSTI is open to collaboration and partnership with the RSLAF in leveraging emerging technologies to contribute to enhancing Sierra Leone’s national security. DSTI is also willing to collaborate with the RSLAF to outsource funds for this course”.
The final presenter for the Symposium was Mr Abdul M Fatoma Founder and CEO, Campaign for Human Rights Development International (CHRDI) with the topic: The Importance of Gender Mainstreaming in the Security Sector Reform. In his presentation, he said during and after the country’s civil war, the then GoSL placed special emphasis on security sector reform to develop an effective, accountable and participatory security sector that respects the rule of law, human rights and gender equality. He added that gender mainstreaming was the evaluation of the positive and negative effects on women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programmes, across all domains and at all levels. That gender mainstreaming was the promotion of equal involvement of men and women in every aspect and activity of the security sector.
Participants during the MoD/RSLAF 2023 Symposium
Mr Abdul Fatoma carefully pointed out the main challenges in promoting gender-responsive reforms and how to overcome them. He explained that the security sector was unable to deal with gender-based violence and discrimination and it was sometimes part of the problem. That men and women were affected by violence and discrimination in very different ways. Consequently, their respective security requirements were different. Crimes against men take place predominantly in public places, whereas women were usually victims of domestic violence an area for which the state does not consider itself responsible.
He emphasized that the laws and policies in the country’s security sector discriminate against women and neither recognize gender-based violence nor regard it as a criminal offense. Many security sector institutions were characterized by gender-specific discrimination derived from patriarchal culture, including gender-based inequality of access. That gender-based violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers includes abuse of power, toleration of violence and brutal treatment of offenders. That gender-based violence against women intensifies the traditional imbalance between the sexes, especially with regards to control of resources, power, and decision-making, since law enforcement bodies were guarantors of security, gender-related violence and discrimination cannot be practiced in their ranks amongst other submissions. The Symposium ended successfully with several questions and concerns from Officers which were commendably answered by the Guest Presenters during the interactive sessions.
Participants during the MoD/RSLAF 2023 Symposium
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