US Africa Command denies plans to establish military base in Botswana

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-8-17 10:51:08

Visiting Commander of the United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) Carter Ham denied on Thursday plans to build a military base in Botswana.

Ham announced this when responding to questions from media in a press briefing, before attending the closing ceremony for the two- week joint military training exercise "Southern Accord 12" between the two countries at Botswana Defense Force's (BDF) Thebephatswa Base in southeast part of Botswana.

"No, there is no American base in Botswana. There are no plans whatsoever to have a base in Botswana. I see these reports where people talk about an American base, but there is no base and there are no plans for an American base. I cannot be clearer than that," said Ham.

He explained that their presence in Botswana and their relationship with Botswana as the US is based on mutual respect and a shared vision for the future, and that includes strong military to military ties.

He said the US has an interest in a safe, secure and stable Africa.

"We want to see Africans able to address African security challenges. Our military engagement in Botswana and elsewhere on the continent is designed to build defense institutions capable of contributing to regional and international security, and when called upon, to support humanitarian assistance effort," he said.

Speaking at the ceremony, BDF Deputy Commander Placid Segokgo said exercises such as these ones allow them to prepare their forces in line to the country's commitment to the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) standby force objectives.

He said the "Southern Accord 12" had objectives such as to increase and strengthen relations and partnerships between US forces and SADC forces in general, and enhance participating forces' efficiency and effectiveness in conducting peace keeping operations among others.

The two-week long maneuver, involving some 1,200 soldiers from both sides, is said to have enhanced the capabilities of military personnel from both countries in a variety of areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, anti-poaching, peacekeeping, and convoy operations, and aero-medical evacuation.

The exercise included both classroom instruction and field exercises. The US has in the past two years conducted similar Joint Military Training Exercises with African countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

US AFRICOM, is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the US Department of Defense. As one of six that are regionally focused, it is devoted solely to Africa. US AFRICOM is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for US military relations with 54 African countries. The command was created by presidential order in 2007 and was officially activated on October 1, 2007.

Posted in: Africa

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