THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, The Republic of Botswana -- More than 1,200 military personnel from The Republic of Botswana and the United States attended the opening ceremony for Southern Accord 2012 on Aug. 1, a joint exercise intended to enhance both countries' capabilities in the areas of humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peace keeping operations and aeromedical evacuation.
"Peace support operations have lately become obligations which can neither be wished away by anybody nor any country," said Brig.Gen. David Dikobe, the Assistant Chief of Staff, Training and Doctrine, Botswana Defense Force. "To this end, humanitarian opporations are closer to the military than ever before in the history of mankind. To remain a relevant and trusted partner, training of this nature can not be overestimated."
Each phase of the exercise aims at enhancing the interoperability between U.S. and Botswanan Defense Forces. The ultimate goal is increased cooperation, which will in turn increase stability and security across the continent.
"In a little over two weeks, as you emerge from this exercise, both Botswana forces and the U.S. forces will be better trained, more capable and more importantly, you will know each other in ways you did not before," said Michelle Gavin, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana, who attended the ceremony. "To everyone participating in the exercise, I want to challenge you to learn as much as you can, please stay safe, enjoy the camraderie of your fellow Soldiers, and build some relationships which will last."
Representing the U.S. is a diverse group of service members from many different kind of units such as medical, infantry, public affairs and veterinary, as well as many more. No matter the job or country, participants look forward to the training and the unique opportunity it provides.
"The three things I'd like you to remember are: building relationships is important, improving processes and capabilities always matters and success is repeatable," said Brig. Gen. Isaac Osborne, Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Africa. "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."
In light of today's political and security environment, both countries agree it is more important than ever to train together so they can operate more effectively.
"This exercise comes at a time when the world faces numerous challenges," said Dikobe, "ranging from natural disasters like drought to civil wars and terror attacks. I therefore urge you to make the most of this exercise, so you can contribute towards making the world a safer place to live."