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BDF cagey about American soldiers’ mission in Botswana

TIGHT-LIPPED: Col. Tebo Dikole
TIGHT-LIPPED: Col. Tebo Dikole

Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has refused to explain the mission of American soldiers who landed in Botswana on Monday this week.

In response to Voice enquiry, Colonel Tebo Dikole said, “It is worth noting that the BDF has and continues to have military cooperation with various countries including USA.”

On Monday, US Air Force (USAF) aircraft landed at Maun airport in the North West District and piqued the interest of the public with some alleging that the crew was here on a mission related to terrorist attacks in Southern Africa.

However, Colonel Dikole rubbished that as a mere rumour, “Kindly note that the BDF is not in the habit of discussing rumours or operational matters because rumours travel faster but they don’t stay put as long as the truth.”

However, Dikole refused to share the truth with the media except to say, “The fact of the matter is that US Air Force (USAF) aircraft landed in Maun for a technical stopover en-route to Thebephatshwa airbase. Furthermore, the USAF crew and members on board were not in Botswana to take care of any terrorists as the rumour you purport alleges.”

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Meanwhile, in July 2019, the US National Guard soldiers and air units from North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey came to Botswana to take part in what is called Operation Upward Minuteman. The programme is a US Africa command exercise to promote the US National Guard’s state partnership on the African continent.

According to an article written by North Carolina’s national guard soldier, Staff Sergeant Mary Junell, who was with the crew last year in Botswana, “This was the first iteration of upward Minuteman, an exercise established to strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information and develop interoperability among partner nations.”

Junell further revealed that the programme is planned to run for a five-year period and will involve National Guard units from other states and their African partner countries.

The article, published on the US Air Force website, further explained that the US was in partnership with several other African countries, with different American states collaborating with different countries such as “North Carolina and Botswana, California and Nigeria, New York and South Africa, Michigan and Liberia, Utah and Morocco, Vermont and Senegal, Wyoming and Tunisia, Kentucky and Djibouti, Massachusetts and Kenya and Indiana and Niger.”

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