Story by Sgt. James D. Sims
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana - Engineers for the Botswana Defense Force and water purification specialists from Company A, 405th Brigade Support Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard out of Streator, Ill., came together during Southern Accord 2012 to train, as well as share knowledge and experience with one another.
SA12 is an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together U.S. military personnel with their counterparts from the BDF to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
"We have learned several things from the 405th," said Cpl. Eric Komane with the BDF corps of engineers. "First they taught us about safety, how to run a generator and finally how to operate the tactical water purification system."
The TWPS uses state-of-the-art reverse osmosis technology to produce 1,500 gallons-per-hour of potable water from any source, including salt water and nuclear, biological, and/or chemical contaminated water.
"One of the main differences between the current system, which is manual, and the one the Americans brought is that it's computerized," said Komane, "and it's very easy to operate."
The team from the 405th recently began using the TWPS and has only used it about six times.
"Initially our mission was to provide purified water for the entire operation," said Staff Sgt. Mark Haberland of Morton, Ill., the water purification supervisor with the 405th, "but upon arriving and running tests on the water and finding it at acceptable levels, we are in position to be a back up in case the system in place goes down."
The combined 405th and BDF teams spent a lot of their time together going over the system, running tests on water samples and getting to know each other and their cultures.
Sgt. David Thompson, the supervisor of the TWPS from Metamora, Ill., said it is nice to come to a different country and get to know the culture - not only how they work but also how they play.
"Our main objective is to interact with the BDF to make sure they understand the system," said Haberland. "We're learning just as much as they are, we're teaching each other."