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NEWS | Aug. 13, 2012

Botswana: North Carolina Air National Guard, Botswana Defense Force find common ground on C-130 Hercules

By Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson, U.S. Air Force U.S. Air Forces in Europe

THEBEPHATSWA AIR BASE, Botswana - As part of the MEDLITE 12 exercise, members of the North Carolina Air National Guard are working hand-in-hand with the Botswana Defense Force to improve upon the aeromedical evacuation capability here.

They are currently providing in-depth, hands-on training to about 30 BDF personnel, but the history of these two units dates back even further.

According to Air Force Maj. Chuck Scronce, a flight nurse from the North Carolina Air Guard's156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, two of the BDF's C-130s were acquired from the North Carolina Air Guard through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

Scronce said he was excited to be sharing this experience with the BDF and to be working on the exact aircraft he initially trained on.

Over the last week the 156th AES and the BDF medics have shared their knowledge in aeromedical evacuation and gotten to know a little more about each other.

"We are not yet fully established … but we are trying to learn from them and how they are doing [aeromedical evacuation]," said BDF Capt. Sonny Mashiaksomo, corps of health services and nurse anesthetist. "Eventually as we grow as a unit we will try and implement an appropriate plan."

Through classroom instruction and practical applications the airmen have shown the BDF what equipment is needed and what capabilities it will bring to the military and civilian population.

"We have the capabilities; we have the C-130 [but] what we don't have is the medical equipment that they are using on the [C-130s]," Mashiaksomo said. "We will need more training on how to operate [in the air] and how to configure the planes and how to manage patients better on the airplane."

Scronce said the BDF are learning the concepts very quickly and once they get the program off the ground he thinks they will do a great job.

"These guys are sharp as tacks," he said. "I have no doubts that if the BDF gets the funding for the [aeromedical] equipment that they will do a phenomenal job."

MEDLITE 12 is a joint exercise between U.S. and Botswana aimed at establishing and developing military interoperability, regional partnerships, synchronization of effort and capacity building, and concludes with a mass casualty exercise.