Sunday, August 31, 2008

Troop Feeding Discussion at EBK Barracks

Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks, Monrovia, June 2nd, 2008:

As the first Initial Entry Training class neared graduation in early 2007, the Liberian Ministry of National Defense (MOD) --- recognizing its limited resources and the difficulty of sustaining a long-term troop feeding program --- directed that the U.S.-led Security Sector Reform for National Defense program not set a precedent of feeding troops with a dining facility or other means after soldiers completed their initial entry training. Under the U.S.-financed and managed SSR program, U.S. Government contractors had always provided three meals a day, seven days a week while soldiers attended all initial entry training and also whenever soldiers were deployed in the field or away from the garrison. But this decision set the stage for events that were to occur nearly a year later.

After growing dissatisfaction among some of the newer soldiers began to manifest in disciplinary problems in March 2008, the Liberian Ministry of National Defense requested that the U.S. Government now pick up the tab and begin delivering two meals a day to soldiers permanently assigned to EBK Military Barracks. Following complicated and intense diplomatic discussions, the U.S. Government agreed to begin a feeding program and phase it out of existence over a period of 17 months as additional cooking facilities and amenities are constructed and delivered at EBK Military Barracks.

Essentially the U.S. contractors would provide two meals a day from June 2008 until 30 April 2009. From May until the end of November 2008 there will be one meal per day. Beginning in December 2009 the free meal program will end. This gives troops sufficient time to prepare, for amenities to be installed and for the Liberian MOD to implement longevity pay raises and seek an across the board pay raise for all troops. With this information I went to EBK at the beginning of June 2008 to address the entire army so that EVERY AFL soldier would have the facts and clearly understand what benefits they would receive and when those benefits would end. To say the troops were thrilled to hear the details of this temporary program would be short selling their glee over this generous development.

{June 2nd, 2008: Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt discusses the benefits of the new Troop Feeding Program just implemented at EBK Military Barracks, Monrovia, Liberia}

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