SIR SERETSE KHAMA BARRACKS, The Republic of Botswana -- Approximately 20 U.S. service members attended the Botswana Defense Force Change of Command ceremony July 31 at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Gaborone, Botswana. The service members represented units participating in the upcoming Southern Accord 12 exercise. SA12 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored, U.S. Army Africa-led combined, joint exercise that brings together U.S. Army personnel with counterparts from the BDF to conduct Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations, Peace Keeping Operations (PKO), Aeromedical Evacuation, and enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
The two-week exercise runs Aug. 1 - 17.
In an effort to demonstrate the strong partnership between the two countries, the BDF invited U.S. service members to attend the ceremony, which has occurred only three other times since the beginning of the BDF in 1977.
"This is a historic occasion to be here," said Brig. Gen. Isaac G. Osborne, Jr., Deputy Commander of USARAF. "This happens only once every six years."
The ceremony featured an exchange of the unit colors between the outgoing commander of the BDF, Lt. Gen. Tebogo Masire, the President of the Republic of Botswana and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Ian Khama, and the incoming commander of the BDF, Maj. Gen. Gaolathe Galebotswe.
"Such a change is not unique to the BDF," said Director of Ceremonies Col. Paul Sharp of the BDF. "As in every institution, there comes a time when there has to be that seamless transition in the leadership. This change normally signifies the beginning of a new chapter in the organization's life cycle."
The exchange of colors was accompanied by a pass and review performed by the BDF. The proficiency and talent of BDF impressed U.S. service members attending the ceremony.
"They were sharp," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Terril Donaldson of Wilson, N.D., an infantryman with Company D, 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion, Billings, Mont.
Other service members agreed with Donaldson.
"They were very professional," said Army Sgt. Traver Bays of Marshall, Ill., a heavy equipment operator with the 631st Engineer Battalion out of Lawrenceville, Ill. "They looked like they worked on it a lot."