The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander, Lt Gen. Gaolathe Galebotswe says Exercise Blue Okavango will foster SADC Air Force preparedness to tackle catastrophes in the region.
Officially opening the two- week exercise in Maun, Lt Gen. Galebotswe underscored the importance of air forces in humanitarian and disaster relief.
He emphasised the need for quick and critical response at such times of catastrophes.
“The practice of airlift capability is vital since when required, it will provide the flexibility to get rapid reaction to the point of a crisis with minimum delay,” he said.
Exercise Blue Okavango, he said, was a platform to practice SADC Air Force doctrine and to ensure compatibility of SADC Air Forces among other objectives. Lt Gen. Galebotswe said the exercise would ensure achievement of Botswana’s social programme; to deliver food stuffs to the needy people in the remotest areas around the Okavango Delta.
“This undertaking is also in unison with current defence planning concepts that embrace a people centric approach which affords military planners the ability to pre-empt and consequently manage would be security challenges,” he said.
Lt Gen. Galebotswe said Botswana Defence Force was honoured to host the event of such magnitude and acknowledged the participating 11 SADC member states who contributed human resource capital and air assets.
He reminded the SADC Air Forces to maintain high flight standards and that the North West region was a major tourism destination in the country.
Giving overview of the exercise, Colonel Segolame Sebenyane of the Botswana Defence Force said Exercise Blue Okavango was part of the biennial activities held among SADC member states to enhance SADC Air Force humanitarian aid preparedness in terms of disaster relief.
Colonel Sebenyane said about 42 aircrafts pledged by SADC member states were expected to take part in the exercise.
He said bigger and heavy aircrafts would airlift food items from Gaborone to Maun, while medium aircrafts will be used from Maun to Gumare, whereas helicopters will be used to deliver food items to the various destinations in the Okavango region.
Colonel Sebenyane said about 950 personnel was expected from the 11 SADC member states in the operation and medical outreach would be offered during the exercise. BOPA
Source : BOPA