May 26, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Technical Center of Excellence, LIBTELCO Building
Honorable Minister F. Musah Dean, Minister of Justice,
Honorable Jefferson Kanmoh, National Security Advisor,
Tobin Bradley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Senator Steve Zargo,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and distinguished guests.
Please allow me to rest on existing protocol.
I could not be happier to be with you today to celebrate a major bilateral accomplishment, the handover of the Liberia Security Radio Network, or LSRN. In this Bicentennial year, LSRN is yet another example of the partnership between Liberia and the United States, and of our joint efforts to advance peace and security.
Minister Dean, I remember our first meeting in early 2021, soon after my arrival to Liberia. In our discussion, it was clear that your Ministry faced no shortage of challenges, whether prosecuting Human Traffickers, reducing pre-trial detention, or helping Liberia’s civilian security agency grow as an independent, professional, effective organization worthy of citizen trust. Since that conversation, we have worked together to make progress in all those areas. I also remember our conversation about LSRN. As others have mentioned, this project has a long history. A history, that is, in fact, too long.
Minister Dean, you and I discussed the fact that we had both inherited this project from other Ministers, other Ambassadors, other Presidential Administrations. Like our predecessors, we both understood the value that this project brings to the Liberian people and to the citizens of both our nations. However, we agreed that we would lead our teams to the finish line so that we could celebrate the successful handover together, rather than turning it over to our successors unfinished.
At this point I must recognize the Ambassador from South Africa – the country that first partnered with Liberia to launch this dream – our accomplishment today is your victory as well. Had you not gotten this off the ground, I’m not sure we would have carried it through.
So what’s important is that we all did it. I am so happy to announce that the day has finally come!
I am also happy to be joined on this occasion by Deputy Secretary of State Toby Bradley, who oversees all INL programs in the Middle East and Africa. His presence, and that of INL Office Director Jason Meeks and others on his staff, shows INL’s strong commitment to support Liberia in your efforts to advance peace, security, and justice for your people.
Minister Dean, when I first met you in February 2021, I was already struck by the obstacles that Liberians face in so many sectors, whether in health, education, or access to justice. However, it wasn’t until my trips outside of Monrovia that I truly came face-to-face with the scope of the challenge.
That is why this project matters so much. The rainy season has begun, a time of year that for many brings with it a sense of isolation and difficulty. For the law enforcement officials in the leeward, the rainy season has traditionally been a time when they must rely on their own scarce resources, judgement and ingenuity to solve problems, aided by only limited support and consultation with headquarters.
With the secure radio network, this rainy season begins to be different. While vast challenges remain, law enforcement officials in Nimba, in Grand Cape Mount, in Lofa and elsewhere can now communicate quickly and securely with Monrovia and elsewhere. This new tool enhances security for Liberians, makes life easier for those who serve and protect, and makes life harder for criminals. It will also help make safe, smooth, and transparent elections in 2023 more likely, at a moment when the whole world will be watching.
This project would never have come to fruition without the contract team at Olgoonik Solutions, and their commitment not only to powering through difficult conditions in the leeward to install a high-quality radio network, but also to building the capacity of their Liberian colleagues at the Technical Center for Excellence, so that the TCE is fully capable and prepared to carry this success forward.
Today’s handover, and the departure of the Olgoonik Solutions team, signifies that as of now, this radio network is a Liberian asset. As American founding father Benjamin Franklin once responded to a woman who asked, “Do we have a Republic or a Monarchy?” He said: “A Republic, if you can keep it!” Well, today, the Republic of Liberia has a secure radio network, and it is yours if you can keep it!
This milestone represents years of labor, effort and sacrifice. But the equally challenging work of maintaining and nurturing the radio network is just beginning. You will have the mundane but essential responsibility of preventive maintenance and planning for equipment replacement down the road. You have an organic, living network which will transform the work of professionals in all of the security services. In the TCE, you have a team that is well trained and well positioned to succeed, so long as they are adequately funded and supported by Liberian government leadership.
We are proud to have been your partners on this project, and we know you will make us proud as we watch you use it to make Liberia safer. The ongoing success of this project adds another layer to the foundation of our ongoing partnership, and tells American taxpayers that Liberia does not take their hard-earned money for granted.
Minister Dean, it is now my honor to officially hand the Liberia Security Radio Network project to the Government of Liberia.