US, Botswana finalise planning for exercise Southern Accord 2024

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The US Army and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) have concluded the final planning conference for exercise Southern Accord 2024, which takes place from 5-16 August this year.

The US Army said the planning conference ran from 18-21 June and marked the culmination of preparations for the joint military exercise, which is designed to increase cooperation and interoperability between the two nations.

Southern Accord 24, sponsored by US Africa Command and led by US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), is a combined, bi-annual joint exercise. It brings together US and Botswana service members to conduct a variety of operations including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and aeromedical evacuation. It will be 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 Colonel David Nkete, lead exercise planner with the BDF. “Exercise Southern Accord gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our US-Botswana partnership and enhance our joint readiness.”

This year’s iteration of SA24 will be held 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, the US Army said.

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

Together with the 2024 African Chiefs of Defence Conference, where 40 military leaders from across the continent converged in Gaborone at the end of June, the bilateral endeavours during SA24 solidify the enduring partnership between the US and Botswana, promoting peace and stability in the region, the US Army said.

These ties were also cemented by the US donating a surplus C-130H Hercules transport aircraft to the Botswana Defence Force at the end of June. The Botswana Defence Force Air Wing’s three existing C-130s had been grounded last year.