WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomed Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Pentagon yesterday to discuss the military relationship between their nations, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, Little said Carter expressed admiration for the foundational work the United States and Liberia have accomplished together to make the Liberian armed forces a viable and stabilizing force.
Carter noted that in December 2014 the Defense Department will draw down Operation Onward Liberty, a program in which members of U.S. Africa Command mentor and advise their Liberian counterparts, Little said. But the deputy secretary also emphasized that while Onward Liberty will conclude, the U.S.-Liberian military-to-military relationship will remain strong, shifting from tactical-level training to strategic-level training and institutional development, he added.
The two leaders also discussed the opportunities and challenges presented as the United Nations mission in Liberia draws down over the next few years. Carter told Sirleaf that the United States and other partners will work closely with Liberia to build its security institutions during this transition, Little said, and will work to enhance the capacity of these institutions so they may take on their rightful role as U.N. forces depart.
Sirleaf thanked the United States for its support in developing Liberia’s armed forces and coast guard to a capable and professional level, Little said, while Carter expressed appreciation for the Liberian armed forces' pledged contribution to the African-led International Support Mission to Mali.
The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch to build upon the strong bilateral relationship between their two countries, Little added.