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Sierra Leone Ministry of Defence (MOD)

The structure of the old MOD, composed solely of a few civil servants and divorced from the military, led to it frequently being by-passed by the military dealing directly with the President. This made it virtually impossible for MOD to exercise its proper role of developing policy and planning, controlling resources, and directing the military on behalf of the government.

The formal declaration in January 2002 ending the war signalled a new beginning for Sierra Leone. A new chapter began on 21 January 2002, with the opening of the new Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the transformation of the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) to RSLAF. By May 2000 the number of staff employed by MOD had risen to 35; a Director General, two Deputy Secretaries, Six Directors and four Deputy Directors. They were joined by 22 ancillary and support staff. At this stage with the exception of a couple of military advisors the MOD remained a wholly civilian institution.

Before Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961 the military was known as the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force. On 19 April 1971, following the successful passage of legislation through Parliament, a formal declaration of republican status was made and the Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces were renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF). The RSLMF remained a single service organisation until 1979 when the Sierra Leone Navy was established. It then remained largely unchanged for 16 years until in 1995 when Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was established and the Sierra Leone Air Wing (SLAW) was formed. The new structure comprised the Army, Navy, and Air Wing. Each operated along single service lines, but came under the overall command of the Chief of Defence Staff.

This gave the need for the RSLMF to be renamed the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone (AFRSL). On 21 January, as part of the restructuring Defence in Sierra Leone, a new Ministry of Defence HQ was opened and the DHQ was reorganised to form HQ Joint Force and Joint Support Command whilst the name Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) pronounced by the HE the President replacing AFRSL.

The existence of the restructured and strengthened MOD in Sierra Leone is an important indicator how far civil - military relations progressed. The MOD plays a vital role in handling and consolidating democratic civil-military relations. Political stability depends upon recognition by the armed forces of their commitment to democratic principles and civilian control as exercised on behalf of the elected government by the MOD.

The MOD is the means by which the legitimacy of the democratically elected Government and its policies are enacted by a non-partisan civil service and a professional military force working in partnership to defend the nation. The role of the MOD is to advise the Ministers of Defence, and to exercise strategic direction on their behalf over the armed forces. This starts with determining defence policy overall and then developing a planning process to produce an effective programme within the resources available. It also encompasses management and control of resources during the year, and accounting for expenditure at the end of the year.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and his team of over 13 military officers came over to work along side the Director General and his civilian team. The effect of this new atmosphere is the beginning of civil-military co-operation that will provide a joint civilian-military MOD under the direction of the democratically appointed civilian political leaders. This result is to be achieved with the help and advice of the team of international military and civil advisors.

The close and interdependent nature of this civilian-military partnership in the MOD is epitomised by the relationship between the civilian DG and the military CDS, neither being subordinate to the other, but each dependent upon the other and sharing responsibility for much of the Department's business.

By 2002 the MOD employed about 165 people. There was a healthy blend of civilian and military staff working in equal partnership throughout the organisation with military personnel working in civilian-led directorates and vice versa. A number of committees had been set up to take forward departmental business and implement government policy.

On 21 January 2002 the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone was officially renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in recognition of a new start for a new force. At the same time the Defence Headquarters ceased to exist and was replaced by two organisations working in parallel, both of which are subordinate to the Ministry of Defence. These are known as HQ Joint Force Command (JFC) and HQ Joint Support Command (JSC).

The JFC brings the land, maritime and air components of the RSLAF together under the operational command of the Joint Force Commander who is responsible for the planning and conduct of all RSLAF operations. RSLAF operations are controlled from the Headquarters of Joint Force Command in Cockerill Barracks, Freetown. The creation of the Joint Force Command enhances the capability of the RSLAF and ensures maximum efficiency in the use of resources. United under a single command headquarters, the land, maritime and air components of the RSLAF work together to guarantee the territorial integrity of Sierra Leone and carry out the Defence Missions and Military Tasks laid down by the Ministry of Defence.

As with JFC the Joint Support Command (JSC) was established in January 2002. The JSC plays a crucial role in all military operations by delivering wide-ranging logistical, administrative and training support to the RSLAF. JSC's importance in providing tactical mobility and flexibility to our armed Forces cannot be underestimated. Its key task is to sustain the operability and capability of troops on operations or training. The material support it provides includes the acquisition, storage, movement, distribution and disposition of stocks or goods so that units can be issued with the quantities they require in the correct condition and at the right time and place. JSC is also responsible for the movement, evacuation and medical support of all personnel, including the recovery and repair of equipment, maintenance of infrastructure, training and the personnel management and administration of all officers and soldiers serving in the RSLAF.





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