By Basadi Morokotso
A contingent of close to five hundred soldiers from SADC countries converged in Maun this past week to embark on a SADC military health services exercise which aims to offer combat medical support services and humanitarian assistance to local communities.
The exercise, which is expected to end on the 29th November was officially opened by Major General Mpho Mophuting at a well attended ceremony to welcome them in the tourism town. Mophuting noted that during the time when the exercise was planned, they had a rough idea of what to expect going forward and whether the various players would perform as expected. He said the exercise will be more focused on aspects of medical evaluation by both air and road, looking at the fact that some roads in the North West District are not accessible by road. He added that they expect it to be a more specialized exercise. Being the first of its kind in the SADC region, he said it is also expected that it will along the process provide combat medical support to the SADC brigade standby force as well as providing outreach services in the form of dental and oral health services, indoor residual spraying in the district as it’s a malaria prone area, and offer specialized medical services at Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital. “We also want those taking part in the exercise to learn, build relations and share experiences as they are from various countries. We will at the end of it all carry out an after action review to see what we have achieved as a team and where we went wrong, said the BDF boss”
For his part Lt Col Inacio Tucua of the Mozambique Armed Defence Force expressed happiness saying the manner with which they have been received by the leadership in Maun is overwhelming. While they cannot predict the challenges that lie ahead during the course of the exercise, he said they are hopeful that they will achieve its objectives nevertheless.
Botswana Defence force was in 2015 also host to Exercise Blue Okavango, a human aid exercise which brought together regional airforces.They were tasked with airlifting goods and food rations from Gaborone to Maun en route to distribution points in the Okavango delta for communities there. Similar military exercises are expected in the Ngamiland region in the future as is regarded as vulnerable and the most hit by challlenges amongst them Foot and Mouth Disease, waterborne diseases and Veldt fires.