CAMP BUTNER, North Carolina - Major General William E. Ingram, Jr. and members of the North Carolina National Guard hosted officers from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) at Camp Butner National Guard Training Center near Durham, North Carolina, August 17, 2009.

The officers, along with a delegation of civlians from all sectors of public life in Botswana, visited North Carolina to participate in the first State Partnership Program conference between Botswana and North Carolina.

Major General Ingram, the Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard, hosted BDF Brigadier George Tlhalerwa, deputy commander of the Defence Logistics Command, and BDF Brigadier D.S. Dikobe, assistant chief of staff training and doctrine, at Camp Butner for familiarization with the training base and also as an introduction to small arms.

The initiative, which took place at the Kenan-Flager Business School on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, was the first event focused on developing ties between civil society in North Carolina and Botswana. The State Partnership Program with Botswana, first established in May 2008, is a key component of a very active military-to-military program between the American military and the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

The day began with a flight from Chapel Hill to Camp Butner in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The visit included an orientation and use of the small arms simulator, a state of the art system used to improve Soldiers' marksmanship. The Botswana officers also had the opportunity to become familiar with and fire several U.S Army firearms, including the Beretta nine millimeter side arm, M4 carbine rifle and the squad automatic weapon (SAW).

Brigadier Dikobe, who is responsible for training programs and doctrine development within the Botswana military, said, "It was a wonderful experience, a great chance to see how the North Carolina Guard does business."

Accompanying the generals were Stephen Nolan, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana, and Major Syd Shinn, bilateral affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Gaborone.

The State Partnership Program is a U.S. Department of Defense sponsored program where National Guard units build ties between state national guards and foreign militaries to enhance professionalism, develop military skills and to foster military-to-military as well as military-to-civilian and ultimately civilian-to-civilian relations.