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IMET Building Block for Partnership
When Major Generals Ronald Ladnier and T.M. Paledi met in Gaborone, Botswana, March 10, 2010, for a senior leader engagement, it was about strengthening the partnership between the Botswana Defence Force and 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa).
GABORONE, Botswana - Major Generals Ronald Ladnier, 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) commander, and T.M. Paledi, Botswana Defence Force Air Arm commander, pause during meetings March 10, 2010. The two discussed a number or air force-related topics, including professional development and the International Military Education and Training program during the AFAFRICA senior leader engagement March 10 and 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Jim Fisher
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: GABORONE, Botswana - Major Generals Ronald Ladnier, 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) commander, and T.M. Paledi, Botswana Defence Force Air Arm commander, pause during meetings March 10, 2010. The two discussed a number or air force-related topics, including professional development and the International Military Education and Training program during the AFAFRICA senior leader engagement March 10 and 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Jim Fisher Download full-resolution version
When Major Generals Ronald Ladnier and T.M. Paledi met in Gaborone, Botswana, March 10, 2010, for a senior leader engagement, it was about strengthening the partnership between the Botswana Defence Force and 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa). While this visit was the second official meeting between the two Generals, the partnership between the two men began long before General Ladnier became commander of 17th Air Force and General Paledi became commander of the BDF's Air Arm.

Their connection dates back to 1991 when the Generals were both students at the U.S. Air Force's Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Ala. Though the two leaders weren't acquainted during their time in the class of 600 students, attendance at ACSC gives them a common experience to draw upon as they work together on today's issues, according to Paledi.

"There were 600 of us, including 80 international students from 52 different countries," Paledi said. "That's a wealth of knowledge from across the globe. When you are a student, you're just looking at doing well, and you are not aware of how you are growing, maturing and developing. Later on in your career you begin to reflect on the stories you've heard, the international presentations you've seen and how you've widened in scope."

The tradition of international students like General Paledi attending professional military education in the U.S. continues today through the International Military Education and Training program, according to Major Tom Shane, south/east region branch chief, 17th AF plans and programs directorate. The BDF is sending 23 students to U.S. PME schools in 2010, including four senior NCOs. The program builds enduring relationships, the major said.

"A primary goal of the program is to bring international students to the U.S. so they can see how we train, how we do business, but it's also so they can join us in the classroom for PME, Shane said. "The program builds life-long bonds and personal friendships that have had significant impacts on how we conduct relations with other nations."

In Africa, the IMET program is funded and managed by U.S. Africa Command, Major Shane explained. As one of the desk officers for Theater Security Cooperation events on the continent, the major emphasized the importance of the program in Africa.

"This is a key program for building partnerships because it provides the most opportunity for relationship building," Shane said. "IMET courses are longer and more in-depth than any other type of program available to international students, with extensive exposure to the U.S. system of government, to our culture and our way of doing business."

Ladnier, who also served as ACSC Commandant from 2002-2004, said that he has benefited from meeting and working with former IMET alumni again and again since AFAFRICA began engagement in Africa in 2009. When the AFAFRICA commander discovered ACSC in General Paledi's biography, he verified that they had been in the same class right away.

"For me, partnership is also about friendship, and relationships formed on shared interests," Ladnier said. "And when I meet a counterpart from an African country like Botswana, I know we will not only have common interests, but a common background, and some shared perspectives. This is invaluable--a great way to start working together."

This shared experience may have increased exponentially in the age of social networking. BDF Lieutenant Colonel Lesedi Kapeko, an ACSC class of 2008 graduate, said with email and applications like Facebook, he is in constant contact with classmates from Kenya, Malawi, Yemen, Japan and Estonia.

"We have continued communication," Kapeko said. "They know what I am doing and I know what they are involved in as well, including peacekeeping operations. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to work together on an operation soon."
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