By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone - The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) will hold a combined bilateral battalion level peace support operation (PSO) exercise from 16 to 30 July in the general area of Kang in the west of Botswana.
Military authorities said the move is part of the preparations by the two nations ahead of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) standby force assuming its duty roster from 1 January to 30 June 2019.
BDF spokesperson, Major Fana Maswabi, said the joint exercises are a result of an agreement reached at the 22nd session of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security and Security (JPCDS) of 2012 held in Gaborone, Botswana.
“The overall objective of the exercise is to enhance interoperability between BDF and NDF in a PSO context at regional level by employing Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force within the broader SADC Peace and Security Architecture,” he said.
According to Maswabi, the peace support operation dubbed “Exercise Tshwaragano II is reciprocal to Exercise Hanganee I, which was in Gobabis, Omaheke region in Namibia in 2016.”
Maswabi also added that the exercises are aimed at enhancing further organisational and operational development of training, procedures and multi-dimensional capacities of the SADC Standby Force. He revealed that about 1,200 troops from BDF and NDF are expected to take part in the exercise.
The SADC SF Civilian Roster is a component of an integrated Civilian Roster of the African Standby Force (ASF) known as the African Standby Capacity (ASC), which was developed by the Africa Union (AU) in collaboration with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs).
The ASC is a recruitment tool to enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to Peace Support Operations once the missions are mandated, either by the SADC Summit or the African Union.
The roster is being populated with civilian experts from different professions which are most relevant to a multi-dimensional PSO, such as civil affairs, political affairs, legal affairs, public information, human rights, gender, and humanitarian relief liaison to name a few.
Maswabi cautioned the public of large movement of military convoys from both troops along the Trans- Kalahari Highway. Maswabi said during the exercise there will be outreach projects and programmes aimed at assisting members of the public.