U.S. Ambassador Alexander Laskaris, the Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Engagement at United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, held high-level meetings in Freetown, Sierra Leone, earlier this month as part of a series of engagements across West Africa.
During the visit, Ambassador Laskaris, along with the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone Maria Brewer, met with President Julius Maada Bio to discuss key military, economic, and security related issues.
One topic of particular interest during the meeting was the need for a signed National Maritime Strategy to guide Sierra Leone’s maritime agencies toward secure, sustainable, and profitable seas.
The United States, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, recently funded a series of events aimed at finalizing a Sierra Leone National Maritime Strategy, a National Maritime Policy, and a Framework for a Whole-of-Government Approach to Maritime Security, which are now awaiting governmental approval.
The participation of Sierra Leone’s military in Peacekeeping operations precipitated another fruitful discussion. The U.S. Ambassadors stressed the need for Sierra Leone to focus on its force’s professional development and welfare in order to prepare peacekeepers that are disciplined, well-trained, and have strong leadership.
In speaking with the new Deputy Minister of Defense Simeon Sheriff, the U.S. delegation also offered to assist Sierra Leone in seeking out sound, economically viable options for training, equipping, and sustaining prospective peacekeeping forces.
At the conclusion of his visit, Ambassador Laskaris commented that he was impressed to see how well the democratic process is working in Sierra Leone and congratulated the country for its successful elections and subsequent peaceful transfer of power.
The delegation appreciated the opportunity to meet with President Bio and reiterated that the United States looks forward to its continued partnership with the government and people of Sierra Leone.