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Sierra Leone News: RSLAF female Cadet, recruit training underway

After nearly three months of written exams, physical tests, medicals and interviews, 329 female officer cadets and soldier recruits finally arrived at the Armed Forces Training Centre (AFTC) in Benguema over the weekend. The recruits will begin up to six-months of training before taking up their places in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). This exercise is supported by the International Security Advisory Team (ISAT) in collaboration with the Armed Forces. Over 4,000 applicants from across Sierra Leone applied for the limited number of places available. Recruits are from every part of Sierra Leone – North, South, East and West – and are now about to embark on a journey with the RSLAF in their chosen specialisations, serving wherever they are needed – securing the nation’s land borders, in specialist military units such as medical, engineers or police, or on Peace Support Operations abroad. The next six months will be mentally and physically challenging. Some of them have family members who have served in the RSLAF and so will have some understanding of the tough times ahead – as well as the lifelong friendships they will make. To help guide, encourage and motivate them through their training, they will be led and supported by some of the most professional male and female instructors in the RSLAF, under the command of Brigadier General Fefegulah, Commandant of the AFTC.  A seasoned military veteran, he has served throughout Sierra Leone in both peacetime and conflict.  He refers to the cadets and recruits who have now arrived in Benguema as his ‘family’ and will be keeping a watchful paternal eye on them all as they progress through their training over the next few months.  All of the recruits now at AFTC will shortly come to appreciate some of the trials, as well as the tribulations of military service, their individual care and welfare will always remain of the utmost importance to the chain of command. For the first time, a retired female officer, (Major Retired) Euphemia Cole – who joined the RSLAF in 1979 and who was the first female commanding officer of the RSLAF Joint Communications Unit – will be employed by the RSLAF as the Civilian Welfare Officer, providing independent welfare support and advice to both the trainees, instructors and the chain of command.  The President, Julius Maada Bio, stated on Armed Forces Day in February the intent that female officers and soldiers should eventually form up to 25% of the RSLAF; he also recognised that ISAT had developed and sponsored this recruiting and training programme in partnership with the MoD, which will considerably further progress towards this goal.  “As with any journey, the first few steps are often the most difficult but also the most important.  On this weekend – which was also appropriately marked the occasion of International Women’s Day – we wish all of those now undertaking training the very best of luck in their endeavours and will look on with interest and pride at their progress over the next few months” Lt Col Matt Palmer – MoD Advisor, ISAT.

AT/14/3/19

Friday March 15, 2019.

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