By Alhaji Saidu Kamara………………………
Last Friday 22nd April, 2016 was a memorable and momentous day in the history of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) as the outgoing Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Lieutenant Col. S.O. Williams officially handed over the baton of office to the newly appointed CDS, Lt. Gen. John Edison Milton and the official pulling out of the outgoing CDS from Military service in the typical traditional style. The symbolic ceremony was held at the Myohaung Officers Mess Lawn, Wilberforce Barracks.
The ceremony attracted various distinguished personalities including Ministers, MPs, senior government functionaries, members of the Diplomatic and consular Corps, heads of Security Agencies, retired Senior military officers as well as wishers and members of the forth estate.
The Assistant CDS in charge of Personnel and Training, Camodore M.B. Milla told the gathering that they assembled to witness the handing over of the baton of office to the new CDS.
He said the outgoing CDS was elevated to the position of CDS of the RSLAF on the 27 June, 2012 and he served diligently for close to four years and he retired on the 27 March, 2016.
Commodore Milla said Lt. Gen. Williams was the first military officer to attain the rank of Lieutenant General.
During his tenure, the Assistant CDS said the outgoing CDS was able to achieve the following: brand new vehicles were purchased, the construction of 15 houses to accommodate officers at the Wilberforce Barracks, construction of houses at the Gondama Military Baracks in Bo. He was also able to deploy 850 strongmen, a battalion known as LEOBAT One to war torn Somalia and under his leadership he was very instrumental in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
M.B Milla said that the new CDS was sworn-in by the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on the 14th April 2016 at State House following a stringent vetting procedure from Parliament. He was tasked by the President among other things to upgrade the 34 Military Hospital to that of 37 Military Hospital in Ghana.
In his statement, the outgoing CDS Lt. Gen. S.O. Williams thanked all those who in diverse ways assisted him to achieve some of his objectives.
He thanked his former bosses whom he described as mentors these include Col. A.O. Kamara of blessed memory, Rtd. Brigadier Kellie Conteh former CDS, Maj. Gen. M.S. Tarawally former Forces Commander and the current Commander –in-Chief, H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
Lt. Gen. Williams said he was enlisted in the Army in 1977 and undergowent military training in Cairo, Egypt.
He said one of the hallmarks in the RSLAF is discipline and maintaining professionalism.
He said as he is pulling out of the military he will miss a lot of things including the environment at mess and above all the interaction with officers and men of the RSLAF.
The new CDS thanked the outgoing CDS as he now joined other Retired Generals but he reminded him of the old saying “Old soldier never dies but they fade away”. He said that whenever the need arises for professional advice, he will call on him.
He thanked his father Rtd. Capt. M. Milton, his wife Mrs. Zainab Milton and his children for their support over the years.