Story by Army Staff Sgt. Jaime L. Witt
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana - U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from the 949th Medical Detachment, Veterinary Services out of Ames, Iowa, assisted the Botswana Defense Force by co-instructing a series of courses in food safety and sanitation during Southern Accord 2012.
SA12 is a combined, joint exercise which brings together the BDF and U.S. forces, to strengthen their partnership and enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
Roughly 35 BDF soldiers and civilian kitchen workers attended classes, which taught food and water inspection, storage, risk assessment, field sanitation, and foodborne illnesses over the course of three days. The academic classes are scheduled to end with a visit to local stables and a meat commissary.
Lance Cpl. Katlego Diseko, a light infantryman with the BDF, said he learned many new things while attending the classes.
"Working with the U.S. soldiers is an eye-opener to me," Diseko said. "I didn't know anything about foodstuffs, using different cutting boards for fruits and veggies, storage... it has helped me a lot."
Diseko plans to use the information he obtained to make food safer for the soldiers he serves.
"The thing I'm concerned with is the welfare of the personnel I am serving," he said.
Lt. Goitseone Goromente, food quality assurance officer with the BDF, said the classes are valuable because some of the attendees are working in the kitchens but have not had the opportunity to attend formal training. Goromente's goal is to have a majority of people who have not received formal training attend the lectures.
"I would like to see them get the information and get the knowledge because they are preparing for a lot of people," said Goromente.
The U.S. is also learning a lot from its BDF counterparts.
"It's been a very great learning experience, to take some of the training from Lt. Goromente and from all the kitchen employees," said Capt. Frank Cerfogli of Madrid, Iowa, a veterinarian with the 949th.
Goromente said he is appreciative of what the U.S. has provided.
"I must say I am quite impressed with what the U.S. team has brought," he said. "They brought people with good interpersonal skills, and mutual respect exists between both parties. I am very happy with what we are getting so far. I thank the U.S. government for bringing such nice people over here."