In anticipation of drawdown plans
by UNMIL, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has alarmed without reservation that the Liberian security sector is “thinly stretched”.
Minister Samukai sounded the warning last Thursday when he served as keynote speaker on a national policy dialogue concerning Liberia’s security sector reform, organized by the Governance Commission.
“The bottom line is that today, our Security Sector is thinly stretched” Mr. Samukai stressed at the forum.
“The recognizable ratio of police to population is less than half of the required strength of our police service. Our border services are widely dispersed in porous locations amidst numerous challenges. Our Military is less than a third of its pre-war strength in 1989. The combined strength of the entire Liberian Security Sector is actually less than the required strength identified in the Gaps of the transition matrix. Recruitment in all sectors is limited by the constraints of Liberia’s cash based budget,” he emphasized.
In order to begin preparation for the eventual transition of UNMIL tasks to Liberian security forces, Minister Samukai said UNMIL combined all elements of Liberia’s Security Sector and conducted a Joint Security Assessment in the 15 counties of Liberia between 2008 and 2009.
The results from this Assessment, he said, led to the setting up of the National Security Council of Liberia to establish a coordinating mechanism with UNMIL.
“A Joint Transitional Core Group, comprising the heads of all Security Agencies as well as ministers from the Ministries of National Defense, Justice, Finance, Planning, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Security Advisor, was tasked with providing strategic guidance and direction to the transitional process from directives and decisions of the National Security Council,” Mr. Samukai said.
As Liberia prepares for the inevitable departure of UNMIL, Mr. Samukai advised: “We need to be strategic, deliberate and realistic in the quality of investment in security and defense sectors. Our security must reflect the aspiration of the Liberian people.” –