The Botswana Defence Force’s (BDF) Force Training Establishment commissioned 65 cadets upon completion of the officer accession program last week, at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Gaborone, Botswana.
Fifty-five graduates, 24 of whom were women, were commissioned into the BDF while 10 others are Lesotho and Umbutfo Swazi Defence Forces officers.
“Botswana’s support to fellow Southern African Development Community member states like Swaziland and Lesotho is very helpful to the professionalization of its smaller neighbors,” said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt, Office of Security Cooperation Botswana.
Although this is the second intake of women in the BDF, this class was the first Force Training Establishment (FTE) group to include women from the beginning of the course. The BDF first accepted female applicants into the force in 2008, however, due to inadequate resources, the women initially trained with the Tanzania Peoples Defence Force.
Shortly after the cadets’ arrival for training, Colonel Martha McSally, US Africa Command (AFRICOM), Captain Patricia Jackson, US Naval Attaché to South Africa, and Wyatt visited the cadets to share advice and impress upon them the importance of their officer accession experience as future officers.
“The class came a long way from when they first began their cadet training in November 2008,” said Wyatt. “Based on their progress and commissioning, the new officers took the message to heart.”