The Sierra Leone Web




Honourable Ministers
Honourable Members of Parliament
The Chief of Defence Staff
Commander, IMATT and Military Adviser to the Government of Sierra Leone
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Distinguished Guests
Officers, Men and Women of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces:

Over the years Myohaung Day has achieved a dominant position in the calendar of events of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

The day underpins not only the gallantry of our military, but also Sierra Leone's contribution to the victory of the world over the tyranny of man against his fellow man. This marked a major turning point in the fight against naked aggression in support of freedom and liberty for all peoples, which has become the vogue in modern times. It is therefore significant to note that we too have played our own part in redeeming mankind from oppression and advancing the cause of freedom and justice.

A minority of Sierra Leoneans are still expressing concern over the departure of UNAMSIL which they fear may lead to the inability of our army to provide robust security in case of need. This minority should be reminded of the fact that what we are doing today is in fact celebrating the outstanding performance of our army during World War II in Burma, and more particularly the battle of Myohaung. In the past, our army went off track due to massive political interference. This has now been corrected through the provision of quality training by IMATT, UNAMSIL, Nigeria and other friendly countries. The officers and other ranks of the army are now entrusted with the management of the armed forces in collaboration with civilians. They have discharged their duty in this regard to my complete satisfaction and I should like to assure our people that if they were to be faced with an emergency situation, they will perform with the same degree of loyalty, gallantry, patriotism and efficiency that won them the battle honours of Myohaung.

With the rebel war behind us, and having accomplished a major portion of our training programme, our next priority area is to maintain the present level of moral within the Armed Forces. In this connection, we shall constantly review the performance of all members of the RSLAF with a view to recognising through promotion and otherwise, the outstanding performance of its members and providing acceptable environment for them and their families to live. Before long, we expect about 260 vehicles for the RSLAF, and there is another 50 new landrovers expected shortly. For these we are grateful to the Swiss and Dutch Governments. In addition and subject to the approval by his Government of any recommendations by the senior Indian army officer that visited Sierra Leone recently and our other development partners, housing accommodation will also be addressed shortly. Proposals from all ranks for the effectiveness in the RSLAF coming through the proper chain of command will always be welcome by Government.
Soldiers and dignitaries at the ceremony

As we celebrate the Myohaung day today, which will include the Beating of the Retreat, let us reflect on our achievements over the years and the challenges ahead of us. In

particular, we are now more than ready to face the task of looking after our own security as UNAMSIL continues its draw down activities in our country. You can count on my Government's support in this regard as I have already stated. Let me again stress that to face this challenge, government, in collaboration with its development partners, has provided training opportunities to personnel of the security sector to upgrade their skills and knowledge in consonance with modern operational needs. This is in addition to the provision of equipment and transport which has already been referred to.

As we steadily progress from emergency to reconstruction and development, our Army is moving along with us. Being a country that has recently benefited from international community intervention in securing peace and stability for our people, we will be required, sooner rather than later, to contribute positively towards international peace building efforts, especially those sanctioned by the African Union. Consequently, the Ministry of Defence liaising with other Defence Ministries in the sub-region is developing appropriate strategies to respond to evolving peace keeping challenges including other peace keeping duties under the aegis of the UN. In the process your horizon in such matters will be widened. I must take this opportunity to state the significance of celebrating the Myohaung day annually:-
Sierra Leone Armed Forces Band in action

(i) To commemorate the gallant performance of the 1st Battalion of the Sierra Leone Regiment in the capture of Myohaung thereby winning the battle honour "MYOHAUNG".

(ii) To reflect on the dominant role played by the Sierra Leone Battalion in turning the course of events in favour of the Allied Forces in the war in South East Asia.

(iii) To constantly remind you members of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces that you have a proud and noble heritage and legacy of honour, service, dignity and military professionalism which you are obliged to display, maintain and preserve at all times.

Finally, let me in anticipation, commend the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, its men, women, officers and leadership for this beautiful Beating of the Retreat in commemoration of our Armed Forces distinguished achievements in Burma some sixty years ago. We are proud of you now as we were proud of you then. You and your predecessors brought honour to your motherland, Sierra Leone.

I thank you.