TWENTY-ONE Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) members are set to undergo training in various fields in the People’s Republic of China as part of a longstanding security cooperation framework between the two nations.
This was revealed during commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) held this week at the Chinese embassy in Maseru. The CPLA is the world’s largest military force, with a strength of approximately 2 285 000 personnel, 0.18 percent of the country’s population.
The event was also a send-off ceremony for the 21 LDF members who will join four of their colleagues training to be medical doctors in the Asian nation over the course of the 2017/2018 training calendar starting in September.
Addressing the gathering, Defence and National Security Minister Sentje Lebona commended the Chinese government for assisting Lesotho in building capacity in the security sector.
“Since 2003, the CPLA and the LDF have had cordial bilateral cooperation on military training wherein a total of 152 officers and soldiers had successfully completed their training since then to date.
The training, he said, focused on such aspects as infantry-based training, engineering, communications and signals, air force, logistics and ordinance as well as military physical education training.
“I therefore would like to thank, with warmest regards, the government of the People’s Republic of China for keeping to its word of capacitating Lesotho with adequate resources,” Mr Lebona said, adding that the Chinese had also assisted the LDF with equipment used to build the lone LDF Military Academy, troop-carriers trucks and command vehicles.
Also speaking at the event, LDF commander Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo said oftentimes, people tended to take peace and security for granted not knowing that it is largely because of the sacrifice of members of the armed forces “who are the ultimate protectors of the country and her people”.
“On behalf of the LDF command and rank and file we stand and salute the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for their exemplary struggle they endured.”
For his part, Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua, said the CPLA had worked very hard to assist LDF’s capacity building efforts. He said the Chinese government also adhered to the principles of non- interference in other countries’ internal affairs.
He also revealed that 219 LDF officers had been trained in China to date, urging the 21 to apply themselves during the training period.
“When they come back they, Lesotho and the LDF will have more excellent commanding officers, engineers and IT experts,” Dr Sun said.
“I sincerely hope they will fully utilise this valuable training opportunity to communicate with their Chinese counterparts, and come home better equipped with the capacity and skills to contribute further to Lesotho’s peace, stability and development.”