Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Liberia's Defense Chief Brownie Samukai have penned an addendum to an Agreement between the two Governments under which China will provide a US$4.5 million military grant to fund the training of Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) personnel in the Engineering Company, ant to purchase equipment.
The People's Republic of China, like the United States, has remained one of Liberia's top most development partners since diplomatic relations were restored in October 2003.
The training of the new Liberian Army has largely been done by the United States, with support from the UN and other partners, since the civil war ceased in 2003.
China has over the years provided scores of millions of dollars to build and reconstruct educational and health institutions, government agencies as well as providing hundreds of long- and short-term scholarship and training opportunities as contributions to building the human resource capacity of Liberia.
Of late, it has offered to help train the AFL, signing an agreement earlier with the Liberian government to which as addendum was signed last week during programs marking the AFL Affiliation Day.
Some members of the AFL are said to have traveled to China for specialized training, and some Liberians said a mixture of training of training of the national army is negative.
President Sirleaf has since described China as Liberia's biggest development partner and described the US as Liberia's traditional ally.
Preceding the Affiliation Day program and signing ceremony, President commissioned two buildings at two military barracks occupied by the AFL as part of celebrations held Thursday, December 27th.
Affiliation Day is an annual event organized by the AFL in collaboration with the Ministry of National Defense, where officers and enlisted men and women, as well as staff and employees of the Ministry, spend the day together socializing with family and friends to mark the end of the calendar year.
The Executive Mansion said the President commissioned a Staff Quarters at Camp Sandee Ware in Careysburg, Montserrado County, and a clinic at the Edward Binyah Kesselly (EBK) Military Barracks near Schefflein, Margibi County. Both were constructed by the AFL's Engineering Company.
Cutting the ribbon at the two structures, the Liberian leader and Commander-in-Chief of the AFL, expressed joy that a national army is engaged not only in defending the territorial integrity of Liberia, but also in contributing to infrastructural development.
The five-bedroom Staff Quarters at Camp Ware, according to the training commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Morpah, will host at least six officers. According to the AFL Command Officer-in-Charge, Major General Suraj Abdurrahman, the clinic at Camp EBK will greatly contribute to the healthcare of soldiers and family members. President Sirleaf described the clinic as a big boost to government's healthcare delivery.
Following the dedication of the clinic, the official Affiliation Day Program commenced, with hundreds of officers, enlisted men and women, family members and well-wishers in attendance.
The day was characterized by speeches, cultural performances, dramas, comedy, sporting activities, musical display, and the presentation of awards to outstanding AFL personnel. The event climaxed with special greetings from the Commander-in-Chief to the men and women in uniform, who commended them for their gallantry, and for being efficient and professional.
"It is because of your gallantry and professionalism that peace and security have returned to our borders with Ivory Coast, and I challenge you to continue doing so in the discharge of your duty," the President Sirleaf said to loud applause. She pledged government's continuous support in all aspects of the soldiers' military life, including salary and social service.
The CIC promised to complete the school annex at Camp Ware, following a request from its students, which was presented by seven-year-old Edmonia Barclay, a third grader.
Regarding monthly earnings, President Sirleaf said the government is seriously considering improving the salaries of government employees, including soldiers, and that the increments would be put into effect once the technical modalities are worked out.
Several officers and enlisted men and women from various companies, including Infantry, Engineering and the Coast Guard, received awards for their discipline and courage.