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US-Botswana armies to do military drills soon

THE United States Army and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) have concluded a final planning conference for exercise Southern Accord 2024, which takes place from 5-16 August this year.



THE United States Army and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) have concluded a final planning conference for exercise Southern Accord 2024, which takes place from 5-16 August this year.

The US Army said the planning conference ran from 18-21 June and marked the culmination of preparations for the joint military exercise, which is designed to increase cooperation and interoperability between the two nations.

Southern Accord 24, sponsored by US Africa Command and led by US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), is a combined, bi-annual joint exercise. It brings together US and Botswana service members to conduct a variety of operations including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and aeromedical evacuation.

It will be the first major bilateral exercise held in Botswana since 2012.

 “We’re very proud of our partnership with the North Carolina National Guard, sharing military best practices with each other since 2008,” said Colonel David Nkete, lead exercise planner with the BDF.

“Exercise Southern Accord gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our US-Botswana partnership and enhance our joint readiness.”

This year’s iteration of SA24 will be held at three locations in Botswana.

From bilateral field training, including a special operations focus, to multiple academic workshops, the exercise features a holistic approach to addressing shared peacekeeping strategies, the US Army said.

One of the pivotal aspects of SA24 is its focus on enhancing gender integration and supporting women, peace, and security (WPS) initiatives.

Together with the 2024 African Chiefs of Defence Conference, where 40 military leaders from across the continent converged in Gaborone at the end of June, the bilateral endeavours during SA24 solidify the enduring partnership between the US and Botswana, promoting peace and stability in the region, the US Army said.

These ties were also cemented by the US donating a surplus C-130H Hercules transport aircraft to the Botswana Defence Force at the end of June.

The Botswana Defence Force Air Wing’s three existing C-130s had been grounded last year.

The training is part of Southern Accord 12 — an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together US military personnel with their counterparts from the BDF to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.

While the guard members and Marines from the United States do not often deal with animal poachers like the soldiers from Botswana, much of the training and tactics are very similar.

“They’re very excited, highly motivated and eager to learn how we do our training,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Leonard Savage, an infantryman with D Company, Anti-terrorism Battalion.

“The BDF asks a lot of questions but mainly they want to know how they are doing and what they can do to improve.”

The training consisted of basic first aid, patrolling techniques, reacting to an ambush, vehicle search, vehicle control point and detainee operations.

While these are key elements in the training of American Soldiers, the practical application for the BDF becomes evident as the service members from both countries take breaks between classes and share stories about their experiences with poachers.

“Some of our guys have never been to this type of exercise but the experience [U.S. forces] are bringing is of paramount importance,” said 1st Lt. Morebodi Tjaikhwa, a platoon commander with the BDF.

Each training lane gives the junior enlisted BDF soldiers an opportunity to experience the tasks, and a chance to be the leader of a team alongside US soldiers and Marines.

“For the few days we’ve been together, I feel that we do interact without any rift and therefore we’ve made some friends,” said Tjaikhwa.

“I hope they appreciate the opportunity.”

Botswana has previously done joint military activities with the US at Thebephatshwa Airbase.

Botswana has given the US permission to construct its own facilities inside Thebephatshwa Airbase.


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