B.D.F. goes Chinese for jungle rations

Belize's love affair with Chinese food dates back to the 1960's and 70's when dining out was a rarity and if you did visit a restaurant it was likely to be named Hong Kong, Canton, or Golden Dragon. Today, of course we seem to take most of our meals away from home and the cuisine is as varied as the nation's ethnic mix. But that old favourite food from the Orient is still with us... and, as I discovered this morning, pops up in the strangest places.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
During brief ceremonies at Price Barracks in Ladyville this morning, the government and people of the Republic of China on Taiwan officially handed over some two thousand five hundred packs of jungle rations to the men and women of the Belize Defence Force.

According to Taiwanese Ambassador Charles Tsai, now the question is whether the Asian food will fill the Belizean bellies.

Charles Tsai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize
”The ration pack in Taiwan and the ration pack used here, we want to see whether the amount is enough, whether the taste is suitable for the B.D.F. soldiers. If they like it, I think we can make it better in the future and we will continue with the support of the ration pack for B.D.F. soldiers in the future.”

Janelle Chanona
“So you’ve heard that Belizean soldiers eat a lot more than Taiwanese?”

Charles Tsai
”Yeah, I think so. The B.D.F. soldiers are much taller than other soldiers, so I believe they may. (Laughs) They eat more, so the amount and the taste, I want to see how they feel about it.”

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
”A large part of our borders to the west is actually inaccessible by roads and so our soldiers have to walk in. sometimes they have to walk in three days and walk out three days. So it’s very important for us to have lightweight, nutritionally balanced rations to take along, because you have to carry seven days of rations with you.”

Today’s donation is part of a long standing partnership between the B.D.F. and Taiwan, and one Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett hopes will become more of a two way street.

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
”We have been assisting other countries in terms of jungle warfare training in Belize because that is where our comparative advantage lies and so we made that offer to them as well. If they are interested in developing jungle fighting skills, then we are able to collaborate with them.”

(Major Oscar Mira, speaking Taiwanese)

In addition to scholarships and leadership courses, this year, Major Oscar Mira became the first member of the Belize Defence Force to attend the University of Defence in Taiwan.

Major Oscar Mira, Belize Defence Force
”I can say that the most interesting experience was learning Chinese. I spent the first five months in Taipei learning Chinese and it was a totally different language, totally different writing, everything. So I think that was the most interesting part of it... And the experience of being in a different culture and sharing my culture and Belize with the other students in Taiwan was very grateful.”

The rations are valued at twelve thousand dollars. According to Ambassador Tsai, the next project in the works is to implement an Information Technology programme for the B.D.F. Freight for shipping the rations from Taiwan to Belize was made possible by Belize City businessman Alex Chang, President of the Belize Taiwan Chamber of Commerce.