The outgoing Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Lieutenant General (retired) John Edson Milton has officially handed over the mantel of leadership for the Sierra Leone Military to Lt. Gen. Brima Bureh Sesay. The change of command ceremony took place at the 34 Military Barracks in Freetown on Wednesday 10 January 2018.
It has been one year eight months and 23 days since Milton was appointed Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) in the same venue from his predecessor (late) Lt. Gen. S.O. Williams. He joined the military as a private soldier and went through the ranks to attain the coveted and enviable rank of Lt. Gen and Chief of Defence Staff.
During his tenure as CDS Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Milton built a sound relationship with the diplomatic corps. He also completed the draft copy of the Terms and Conditions of Service for RSALF (TACOS), a document believed to be waiting presidential approval to become a policy for the military.
In his handing over speech the outgoing Chief of Defense Staff Lt. Gen. (Rtd) John Edson Milton, thanked the President for giving him the space to serve the country in that capacity. In 2016, he promised the country of solving the issue of Wounded in Action (WIA) personnel, which has been settled.
The retired General said he was able to establish an Army Forces Technical and Educational College, which has attracted local and foreign students. He said he was also able to transform the Horton Academy into a full-fledged Military Academy of excellence.
Milton furthered, “The RSLAF has made history and taken a leading role in Africa regarding the elimination of recruitment and use of child soldiers in conflict. We are also the only army in Africa that has drafted a doctrine on child soldier initiative and that doctrine will be used as a template to develop doctrines for other military and state security institutions,” he confirmed.
During his less than two years of service, he was able to see the training of 615 recruits and 85 Cadets, 196 Specialists and 341 recruits. Among this number are 20 female cadets, 80 other female recruits and 33 female specialists giving a total of 133 female intake in 2017.
Milton called on all military personnel to support the new CDS and his team with fresh, vigor and new ideas without any distraction stating, “This is not the time you know your friends; it is when you have left.” He stressed, “A fresh palm tree will be a beehive of activity as it attracts lots of birds but when the freshness and fronds are devoured, they leave for a fresher tree,” he noted.
The new CDS Lt. Gen. Brima Bureh Sesay said 26 years ago he was at Benguema barracks were he joined the military and has served the country with unwavering commitment. He said the military have played a critical and strategic role in the country’s development pointing at their roles in the recent mudslide, Ebola, and other emergencies.
Sesay said he is taking over at a time when government has expressed desire in the military from the procurement of all kinds of uniform and materials. He said his appointment requires teamwork, adoptation of techniques and called on them to open their minds to surpass challenges ahead.
By Mohamed Kabba
Friday January 12, 2018.