Posts Tagged 'Botswana'

Africa Snapshot: Botswana

Located north of South Africa, Botswana is the site of this year’s Southern Accord, an exercise that fosters security cooperation while conducting a combined joint humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, and aeromedical evacuation exercise.

Population: According to the CIA World Factbook, the estimated population for July 2012 was about 2 million people.

Languages: While the official language of Botswana is English, only about 2% of the population speaks it.  The majority (78.2%) of the population speaks Setswana, while a small percentage of the population speaks Kalanga, Sekgalagadi, or other languages.

Religion: 71% of the population practices Christianity; 6% practices Badimo.  The rest of the population’s religion is unspecified.

History: The name “Batswana” is a term used to denote all citizens of Botswana. “Batswana” also refers to the name of the major ethnic group, the Tswana, which came to the area from South Africa during the Zulu wars of the early 1800s.  Until the arrival of Europeans, the Batswana were farmers and herders under tribal rule.  The Batswana asked for British assistance in the 19th century, when hostilities broke out between the Batswana and Boer settlers from the Transvaal.  In 1885, Britain put “Bechaunaland” under its protection. The northern territory is what is today Botswana, while the southern territory is now a part of South Africa. Britain honored Botswana’s request to be self-governed in June 1964, and the first general elections were held in September of 1965.  The first president of Botswana was Seretse Khama, a leader in the movement toward independence.  He ruled until his death in 1980. The current president, former Vice President Ian Khama, was elected as president during the general election held on October 16, 2009.

Economy: Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income since its independence in 1964, but it has significantly slowed due to the global economic downturn. Botswana’s economic record is a result of wise use of revenues from diamond mining.  Mining, tourism, and agriculture are the primary economic industries of Botswana, but the high rate of HIV/AIDS among the people has hurt the economy.  The government has been providing leadership to combat this deadly disease, including free anti-retroviral treatment and a nationwide Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program.

Relationship with the United States: The U.S. and Botswana have a very strong relationship, with America recognizing Botswana as an advocate and model of stability in Africa.  During Exercise Southern Accord, more than 1,200 military personnel from the Republic of Botswana and the United States came to train together on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and peacekeeping operations, to practice aeromedical evacuations, and to enhance military capabilities and interoperability. The U.S. has also worked in collaboration with Botswana to combat HIV/AIDS. Of adults ages 15 to 49 in Botswana, about 25% are infected with HIV, as of 2009. Botswana is one of the 15 focus countries for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Sources: State Department; PEPFARCIA World Factbook

Malawi Senior Leader Engagement

On 5/24/2010 12:17:36 PM Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka, senior enlisted leader wrote:

I just returned from my most recent trip to Africa where I visited with partner nation military leaders in Malawi. This was my first trip to Malawi. As always, I was encouraged by the willingness of partner nations to improve their security related capabilities and to remain relevant in the contemporary operational environment.
Yes, you guessed it; my focus was to assist — if they invited us to do so, and they did — the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) in advancing warrant officer (WO) and noncommissioned officer (NCO) capabilities and capacity in a way that improves the overall effectiveness of a force.

And once again, I reminded myself what is important in all my engagements and deliberations:

1. Personal relationships are crucial. Everything is personal and this means being on the ground in Africa among Africans.
2. Listen, listen, listen…talk is cheap. Listening is golden.
3. It is for the long-term, not short-term rotations or arbitrary timelines. Nothing happens quickly in Africa. Much will go wrong. Commitments and perseverance are essential.
4. Understand that actions speak louder than words. The image of America in much of Africa is that of a 20-year-old Peace Corps volunteer who lives among the Africans, learns their language, earns little, and is eager to learn.

The US Embassy composition in Malawi is unique in that there is no US military presence in US Embassy-Lilongwe. The senior defense officer/ defense attach resides in US Embassy-Harare, Zimbabwe and the security cooperation officer resides in US Embassy-Gaborone, Botswana. Therefore, US Embassy-Lilongwe employs a Political Military officer (Mr. JT Ice)–who is a foreign service officer–and a foreign service national (Kalezi Zimba) as the military programs specialist; to be quite honest, that construct works quite well in Malawi. JT and Kalezi were wonderful partners this past week. Our delegation also included SGT Carrie Wawrzyk, OPS NCO US Embassy-Harare.

The engagement began with a visit with the Commander-Malawi Defense Force who provided our delegation with the history of the MDF; the MDF prides itself on its professionalism and apolitical approach to past political problems. The Cdr-MDF also explained very clearly that he is intent on improving the capabilities of the MDF WOs and NCOs. Our exchange of concepts and ideas re WO and NCO development was cordial and sincere. However, let me be clear here, this is not new to the Commander-MDF; he began to focus on WO-NCO development two years ago when he made the decision to allocate roughly 40% of MDF IMET to WOs and NCOs.

I was most fortunate this week to meet and spend the entire week with another Defense Sergeant Major (DSM), WO1 Julius Kamphenga. I still find it interesting that our information systems don’t recognize nor identify the postings of a DSM; often, it’s not until I embark on a senior leader engagement do we find out that the Defense/ Armed Force has a posted DSM or Force Sergeant Major (FSM). This fact further emphasizes the importance of US senior enlisted leader engagements in order to fully understand the organization of the defense/ armed force. I found the MDF DSM to be very astute and wise; with 39 years of total service and the last eight as the DSM, he knew the MDF.

Moreover, the Commander-MDF showed great respect for the MDF DSM, not true in all countries I visit who have posted DSMs/ FSMs. Needless to say, I listened and learned from this wizened and sagacious leader.

During the week, we visited various locations in and around Lilongwe and then proceeded to Salima–near Lake Malawi–where the Malawi Armed Forces College (MAFCO) and the MDF Parachute Battalion are located. In each location, our delegation heard various briefings on MDF capabilities, areas of previous partnership, and areas of potential future partnership. Likewise, in each location, the MDF eagerly requested our delegation to present the “US Africa Command” and the “Improving WO-NCO Capability and Capacity” briefings. The audiences–officers, WOs, and NCOs–were very interested in hearing about US Africa Command and how it has progressed since its establishment. Yes, most if not all in the audiences had heard of US Africa Command’s somewhat rocky beginning; they were impressed on how far we have come since those days–one US military command focused on delivering effective military programs and activities to African partners, all focused on security and stability. The audiences were also keenly interested in the “Improving WO-NCO Capability and Capacity” briefing as it uses a simple formula to clearly explain “A” Way to approach this endeavor. As we have stated so many times during this presentation, each partner must apply its own, history, culture, tradition, and doctrine in order to advance their WOs and NCOs in a way that sustainable for their AF/ DF. This presentation only serves to provide them another perspective to WO-NCO development. Just to remind our reading audience, the formula we use is “Ways X Means X 3Will.”

We wrapped-up the week with final discussions with the DSM. The DSM clearly stated his expectations and outcomes from the weeklong visits, discussions, and deliberations. We–our delegation–will now take his requests back to the US Africa Command staff in order to determine how to deliver the programs requested by the DSM, and in a way, that meets the MDF’s needs. As in every post-engagement follow-up we must now demonstrate that we–US Africa Command–are the trusted and reliable partner we want to be, and say we are!

Command Sergeant Major Mark S. Ripka became United States Africa Command’s senior enlisted leader in November 2007. He previously served as command sergeant major of United States Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Command Sergeant Major Ripka holds the highest-ranking enlisted position in the command, serving as the principal enlisted advisor to the commander. You can learn more about CSM Ripka at

AFRICOM: Botswana and Namibia

On 5/14/2010 10:27:04 AM General William E. Ward wrote:

I recently returned from a productive trip to Botswana and Namibia, where I had the chance to meet numerous senior political and military leaders to reinforce the strong relationships between our nations, ensure their satisfaction with our efforts to build their security capacity and to listen and learn from them on ways we can continue to move forward.


The visit to Botswana was very important as it reinforced the strong and enduring ties between our two countries. The Botswanan Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Masire and I met briefly to discuss areas of mutual interest and cooperation between our militaries.

This followed with my address to the students of the Defence Command and Staff College (DCSC) and senior officers, noncommissioned officers, and warrant officers of the BDF. The main point of the talk was the importance of stability and the need for sufficient security capacity for our African partners to sustain sufficient stability to allow developmental and other efforts in Africa to continue to grow. I noted the upcoming World Cup and how stability will provide opportunities for future world-class events to come to the continent. At the BDF’s request, I focused much of my talk on intelligence, which is an important enabler for African militaries to gain a common understanding of the battlefield in whatever form it takes. Intelligence is a key to helping commanders make proper decisions through knowledge and analysis. But because intelligence has a traditional connotation of “spying,” I made sure that the audience understood that I was talking about the more constructive and collaborative uses of intelligence, that of gaining and sharing information critical to mission success.

The afternoon featured a tour of the new temporary DCSC facility. Although the facility is small, the Commandant of the School, Brigadier General Giotseleene Morake, has great plans for the future, to include a new campus that will combine the senior and junior staff colleges together along with the noncommissioned officer academy. I was quite impressed with the academic rigor and the desire to innovate.

We followed our school tour by going back to the U.S. Embassy for a media roundtable. The questions focused on the basing of our Africa Command Headquarters on the continent. I told them that U.S. Africa Command would be in Stuttgart, Germany for the foreseeable future and that our work is done on the continent through our people and our programs. One reporter asked me why we don’t do a better job in communicating our messages to the African people. I told him that we are communicating with the African people through the news media and this media engagement. Although it is progressing slowly, I sense that we are effectively communicating our message through to the people of Africa and they are supportive of the command

We received a briefing on the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center (VCTC) at the Tebelopele Clinic. The U.S. military has worked very effectively with our partners from Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to combat HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP). Our government, with other international partners, is making a difference in the fight against this deadly disease.


My first stop on my first visit to Namibia was to the U.S. Embassy for an informative meeting with Ambassador Denise Mathieu and the country team in the capital Windhoek. I was impressed with the level of engagement that the U.S. Embassy and country team is having with Namibia. From working with HIV/AIDS to the Millennium Challenge, the Ambassador and her team are making a difference in southwest Africa.

The day continued with meetings with the Namibian Ministry of Health, where I met with Dr. Kamwi. We discussed U.S./Namibian PEPFAR efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Namibia. Additionally, we discussed ways that Africa Command could help the Namibian military and U.S. country team efforts to assist in health related issues

Another important meeting was with the Ministry of Safety and Security. The key issue of discussion was our support to the upcoming Namibian police visit to Ramstein Air Base in Southwestern Germany to improve their understanding of drug and bomb detection efforts. We also talked about the recently concluded unexploded ordnance training conducted by the Humanitarian Mine Action Program at the Pius Kauda Police Training Center.

The next morning, started early for me with a fifteen minute appearance on the popular nationwide television program “Good Morning Namibia.” Karembire Zemurka was a wonderful host for the show and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to tell the Namibians about our Command on live television.

I went to the Ministry of Education to meet with Minister Lyambo. We discussed the importance of education and how it is a vital aspect of building a future generation that is peaceful and prosperous. We talked about the school that Africa Command is partnering with our U.S. government friends to build in northern Namibia.

My final official stop was at the Ministry of Defense, where I met with the Deputy Minister, the Honorable Lempee Lucas. She and I held an impromptu press conference at the end of our meeting. It was very gratifying to hear Ms. Lucas praise our bilateral relationship and her wish to see Africa Command play a greater role in military-to-military relations in the future.

Over all, it was extremely productive trip, and I hope to visit both of these great countries again in the near future.

VIsit us at


Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Meets Botswana Officials and the Botswana Defence Force

On 4/9/2010 4:12:57 PM Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt, Office of Security Cooperation Botswana wrote:

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, presents a gift to Major Israel Mbangwe, task force commander for the Chobe Sub Sector of northeastern Botswana in front of a Botswana Defence Force

GABORONE, Botswana - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, presents a gift to Major Israel Mbangwe, task force commander for the Chobe Sub Sector of northeastern Botswana, in front of a Botswana Defence Force Air Arm C-130 on April 8, 2010. (Photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt, Office of Security Cooperation, Botswana)

In early April Deputy Assistance Secretary of Defense for Africa Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, visited senior members of government and the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) as part of her first visit to Botswana. Ambassador Huddleston, the senior most Department of Defense official to visit Botswana in the past few years, used this opportunity to pay a courtesy call to the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ambassador Seretse at his office in Gaborone.

The meeting, also attended by Ambassador Stephen Nolan, the U.S. ambassador to Botswana, was very productive as both Minister Seretse and Ambassador Huddleston discussed common areas of interest and potential areas of future cooperation. After her meeting at the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Ambassador Huddleston visited Lt Gen Masire, Chief of the Botswana Defence Force at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Gaborone. General Masire, who will retire in July, thanked Ambassador Huddleston for the U.S. military’s long friendship and assistance in the development of the Botswana Defence Force since its founding in 1977.

Ambassador Huddleston’s next stop was the new Defence Command and Staff College (DCSC) in Gaborone. She met the Commandant, Brigadier General Goitseleene Morake, and his staff. At Brigadier Morake’s invitation Ambassador Huddleston served as a guest lecturer for the current class of 34 students. Her topic was “U.S. Defense Policy in Africa.” The lecture was originally scheduled for 30 minutes but drew so much interest and so many questions from the BDF students that it lasted nearly an hour. In her lecture Ambassador Huddleston highlighted U.S. defense interests in Africa, including transnational threats like terrorism, illicit trafficking and climate change, regional and ethnic issues and diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrheal infections that undermine security and stability of states and entire regions. The staff college, now in its third academic year, has quickly become a premier military institution and one of the finest staff colleges in Africa. Temporarily housed at a leased former primary school, the DCSC will move to a purpose built facility at Glen Valley (15 kilometers north of Gaborone) in 2012. At Glen Valley the DCSC will train not only Botswana officers but will also begin taking foreign student officers from throughout Africa.

The BDF Air Arm then flew Ambassador Huddleston and her party from Gaborone to Kasane in the far northeast by C-130 transport aircraft.
Heavy rainfall over Gaborone had resulted in a gray, overcast day throughout the first day of her visit. As the crew flew north they left the clouds behind, offering Ambassador Huddleston and her party an aerial view of Botswana’s second diamond mine at Orapa and, further north, the now water filled Makadikadi Pans which are normally dry basins. The flight arrived in Kasane shortly before sunset with clear skies.

On the final day of her visit Ambassador Huddleston and party drove to the Chobe Sub Sector headquarters near Kasane, where the Major Israel Mbangwe, 15 Infantry Battalion, Botswana Defence Force gave the visitors an operations brief detailing BDF anti-poaching operations and support to civil authorities in the region. The briefing was followed by a site visit at a BDF base camp in the bush. BDF soldiers use the base to patrol for poachers and protect Botswana’s diverse wildlife from predation. Tourism is the second largest contributor to Botswana’s economy. Conservation is also a significant area of interest for the government. The BDF does its part to protect Botswana’s natural endowments. In Botswana, the protection of wildlife and the environment are considered to be in the interest of national security. The final event hosted by the BDF was a boat trip up the Chobe River with a BDF Engineer Detachment based at Kasane. Members of the Kasane based Engineer Detachment transported Ambassador Huddleston and her party along the Chobe River where she was able to she first hand the variety and abundance of BDF protected wildlife along the banks of the Chobe. This included sightings of elephants, hippos, impalas and the rare puku antelope.

On her return to Gaborone with the BDF Air Arm, Ambassador Huddleston remarked at “as a military, how professional and experienced the BDF is.” She returned to Washington having been very impressed with not only the BDF, but the people and the country of Botswana as well. In her current position as a Department of Defense senior official and her past experience within the State Department, Ambassador Huddleston is a unique person in Washington. For their part, the BDF hopes the trip will prove useful to the long established relationship between the BDF and the U.S. Department of Defense.

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