The exercise, which began yesterday, is code named Southern Accord 12, and brings together the BDF, USARAF and AFAFRICA to foster security cooperation while conducting joint Humanitarian Assistance or Disaster Relief, Peace Keeping Operations and Aero Medical exercises. US Army Africa Commander, Brigadier General Isaac Osborne told the troops that the vision of Southern Accord 12 had three key elements: building relationships, improving processes and capabilities.
General Osborne said if the solders always remembered them they could be sure to meet with success.
"As we work together side by side, the relationships, knowledge and skills that will be shared will benefit our militaries and our nations today and in the future," he said.
He said improving processes and capabilities was always important to soldiers because their nations counted on to them to protect them from threats. Osborne told the soldiers that their nations depended on them to provide humanitarian assistance when required and the time they took to develop standard practices and training was vitally important and it mattered to a lot of people. The training was a beneficial opportunity for every participating nation. "The strong partnership developed here will serve the region well as we continue to conduct military activities," Osborne said.
He urged the soldiers to continue building mutual respect and understanding between southern African and US militaries for future bilateral and regional engagements.
Also speaking at the launch of the joint exercise, the American Ambassador to Botswana, Michelle Gavin, said the exercise had received much attention from both senior officials of the US Army and the government.
Ambassador Gavin said it was important to appreciate the hard work shown by US Army personnel in their international assignments.
Brigadier David Dikobe of the BDF told the troops that the exercise would provide a rare opportunity for US Army, Air Force and Marines and the Botswana Defence Force to have two weeks of interactive academic training and practical applications in operations, as well in humanitarian assistance philosophy.
"This exercise comes at a time when the world is facing numerous challenges, ranging from natural disasters like drought to civil wars and terror threats," Brigadier Dikobe said. "I therefore wish to urge you to make the most out of this exercise so that you can contribute towards making the world a safer place to live in."
He said although the BDF had been inactive in regional and international peace operations, the desire to maintain a capable force to deploy for such operations still existed, hence the BDF still trained its troops in these skills. The exercise will cover a large area of the Kweneng District, using Thebephatshwa as its command base.