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NEWS | June 24, 2024

US, Botswana Finalize Planning for Southern Accord Exercise

By Maj. Joe Legros, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

GABORONE, Botswana – The U.S. Army and Botswana Defence Force completed planning for Southern Accord 2024, a joint military exercise to increase cooperation and interoperability between the two nations.

Representatives from the North Carolina National Guard, which shares a State Partnership Program partnership with the BDF, facilitated a seamless integration for exercise planners from U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, at a June 18-21 conference. Together, the participants worked out final details for the first major bilateral exercise held in Botswana since 2012.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with the North Carolina National Guard, sharing military best practices with each other since 2008,” said Col. David Nkete, lead exercise planner with the BDF. “Exercise Southern Accord gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our U.S.-Botswana partnership and enhance our joint readiness.”

SA24 is a biannual joint exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and led by SETAF-AF. It brings together U.S. Army personnel and BDF counterparts to conduct various training, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and aeromedical evacuation. 

“We feel very welcomed by our Botswana military partners here in Gaborone,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jason M. Porter, deputy chief of exercises (G7), SETAF-AF. “SETAF-AF is grateful to join with the North Carolina National Guard to ensure a successful bilateral training exercise. We look forward to training together with the Botswana Defence Force and increasing our military capabilities.”

This year’s iteration of SA24 will be held Aug. 5-16 at three locations in Botswana.

From bilateral field training, including a special operations focus, to multiple academic workshops, the exercise features a holistic approach to addressing shared peacekeeping strategies.

One of the pivotal aspects of SA24 is its focus on enhancing gender integration and supporting women, peace, and security (WPS) initiatives.

“SETAF-AF is happy to partner with the BDF on a 5-year WPS strategy,” said U.S. Army Maj. Teisha Barnes, SETAF-AF WPS advocate and civil military cooperation officer (G39). “This is significant because the strategy will be spearheaded by the BDF Gender Integration office, which was established in September 2023.”

The collaborative efforts during the final planning conference highlighted the United States and Botswana’s commitment to strengthening military cooperation. By working together through exercises like SA24, both nations aim to build a resilient and responsive partnership capable of addressing future crises or peacekeeping challenges.

Together with the 2024 African Chiefs of Defense Conference, where 40 military leaders from across the continent will converge in Gaborone at the end of June, the bilateral endeavors during SA24 solidify the enduring partnership between the United States and Botswana, promoting peace and stability in the region.

 

 

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