President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the 296 Botswana Defence Force (BDF) troops who deployed this morning to join SADC forces in Mozambique should brace for a “deceptive enemy” likely to use “underhand tactics” in the fight in that country’s north.
Masisi, as SADC’s politics, defence and security chair, has been shuttling between Maputo, Gaborone and other regional capitals rallying support for regional intervention to stop the Islamic State-linked insurgency.
Sending off the troops this morning at Sir Seretse Khama Airport, Masisi warned that the terrorists were expected to use asymmetric and unconventional warfare to pursue their goals.
“As professionals, you stand for much more than they do and must avoid emulating them and sinking to their level,” he told the troops. “I therefore demand nothing less from you to observe the Laws of Armed Conflict as prescribed internationally in your profession of arms, as well as the Status of Force Agreement which establishes the framework under which the SADC Mission in Mozambique personnel will operate in Mozambique.”
The BDF will be joining a SADC Standby Force consisting of more than 800 soldiers from different countries in the region. Rwanda, which is not a SADC member, already has 1,000 soldiers in the east African country, having secured a bilateral arrangement to deploy with Mozambique. In addition, Western countries have contributed military support to stem the conflict.
Masisi, who is also the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, revealed that each SADC member contributing troops to the battle would pay its own costs, together with assistance from the SADC Secretariat.
“Your deployment comes at a time when the country is facing economic challenges which have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic which is inflicting enormous health, economic, and social damage to all nations,” he said. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, my government through the Reset Initiative is working tirelessly to reinvigorate the local economy and will be sourcing some of the services for the mission locally.”
The BDF’s has previously deployed to Somalia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Lesotho on peace-keeping missions. Masisi said in all these missions, the BDF had received very positive appraisal for its professional conduct in the execution of the military job.