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U.S. and Botswana Airmen Participate in Theater Security Cooperation Event
Thirty Ramstein Airmen traveled to the southern region of Africa in early October, 2008 to share their knowledge and experience with counterparts from the Botswana Defense Force (BDF). <br /> <br />The team of pilots, navigators, flight engineers,
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - U.S. Air Force Colonel Ty Thomas and Captain Marc Andrews are greeted by members of the Botswana Defense Force upon their arrival to Botswana in early October, 2008. During the visit, U.S. and Botswana airmen shared knowledge and participated in discussions, which were geared to build the airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
4 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 4: RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - U.S. Air Force Colonel Ty Thomas and Captain Marc Andrews are greeted by members of the Botswana Defense Force upon their arrival to Botswana in early October, 2008. During the visit, U.S. and Botswana airmen shared knowledge and participated in discussions, which were geared to build the airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier) Download full-resolution version
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant Alex Garret, U.S. Air Force, shows Warrant Officer 1st Class Malefho Baipusi, Botswana Defense Force, the inside of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
4 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 4: RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant Alex Garret, U.S. Air Force, shows Warrant Officer 1st Class Malefho Baipusi, Botswana Defense Force, the inside of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier) Download full-resolution version
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant James Pentergast, U.S. Air Force, shows members of the Botswana Defense Force the cockpit of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
4 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 4: RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant James Pentergast, U.S. Air Force, shows members of the Botswana Defense Force the cockpit of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier) Download full-resolution version
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Colonel Ty Thomas, U.S. Air Force, talks to Botswana Defense Force officers Captain Maitseo Pelaelo (left), Major M. Muzola (center), and Major S. Rammika (right) during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
4 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 4 of 4: RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Colonel Ty Thomas, U.S. Air Force, talks to Botswana Defense Force officers Captain Maitseo Pelaelo (left), Major M. Muzola (center), and Major S. Rammika (right) during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier) Download full-resolution version
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - U.S. Air Force Colonel Ty Thomas and Captain Marc Andrews are greeted by members of the Botswana Defense Force upon their arrival to Botswana in early October, 2008. During the visit, U.S. and Botswana airmen shared knowledge and participated in discussions, which were geared to build the airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant Alex Garret, U.S. Air Force, shows Warrant Officer 1st Class Malefho Baipusi, Botswana Defense Force, the inside of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Master Sergeant James Pentergast, U.S. Air Force, shows members of the Botswana Defense Force the cockpit of a U.S. C-130 during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Colonel Ty Thomas, U.S. Air Force, talks to Botswana Defense Force officers Captain Maitseo Pelaelo (left), Major M. Muzola (center), and Major S. Rammika (right) during a visit to Botswana in early October, 2008. The visit was part of a theater security cooperation event which allowed U.S. and Botswana airmen to share knowledge and participate in discussions geared towards building airlift capacity of the Botswana Defense Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Marcus Maier)
Thirty Ramstein Airmen traveled to the southern region of Africa in early October, 2008 to share their knowledge and experience with counterparts from the Botswana Defense Force (BDF).

The team of pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters and personnel from security forces, supply and public affairs stayed in Botswana four days before continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa, where they participated in an air show.

"We are here on what's called a theater security cooperation event," said Colonel Ty Thomas, 86th Operations Group commander.

"The essence is that we work with the BDF, their Air Force in particular, to build an airlift capacity. What they've asked us to come down and talk about is our ability to deploy and redeploy air forces, particularly C-130s, for peace-keeping or humanitarian operations."

During the first day, U.S. and Botswana aircrews participated in discussions and briefings.

"We discussed ways of employing the C-130 and the differences of how we use the airplane and some of the challenges they have," said Captain Sarah Santoro, a C-130 pilot. "It's always interesting to see when we go visit places that the mindset is always aircrew to aircrew - no matter what flag they have on their shoulder."

Members from both countries were eager to compare notes and to learn about each other.

"I was very impressed," said Staff Sergeant Jesse Levy, a loadmaster with the 37th AS. "They were very professional and enthusiastic. They seemed as happy about us being there as we were. Overall it was a very good experience."

Levy specifically noticed an immediate sense of camaraderie between the loadmasters from both countries.

"I'd say we are very similar in attitude," he said. "We both have a high enthusiasm for this job. They really want to get the best training possible, just like we do. Their loadmaster asked a lot of questions about airdrops and about different things that we do. He really wanted to come back and do more training with us. I definitely think they are where they need to be with attitude, but they could really benefit from more training."

The Americans also noted some differences.

"They do things differently," said Staff Sergeant David Bell, an engine specialist with the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "They have a longer technical training than we do."

He also noted that their maintenance career field is broken down into only three sections, compared to American maintainers who have seven fields of expertise.

"I was impressed to see that they use the same equipment we do," Sergeant Bell said. "Their aircraft are a lot older, but they have newer engines and the glass cockpit upgrades."

On the Ramstein Airmen's last day with the Botswana Defense Force, Botswanan aircrew members were invited to ride along in the U.S. C-130s on a low-level formation training flight.

"This was an incredible opportunity for us," said Major T. Phuthego, chief pilot for Botswanan C-130 operations. "One of our main challenges is that we are still part of the army. It's refreshing to get a chance to interact with other members of the aviation community. We look forward to more opportunities to interact with each other. Our goal is to become more proficient in deploying our C-130s for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around Africa."

Overall the stay in Botswana was a success, according to Colonel Thomas, who asserted that more training opportunities would be beneficial to both nations.

"I see a future of more training with the BDF in terms of willingness and interest in doing it," he said. "Several of their officers have expressed a desire for us to continue this relationship. I also think there is a significant amount of value added for us as the U.S. military to remain engaged in the South African region, because it will likely become more and more important as interests and activities in Africa develop."

Major Sidney Shinn, bilateral affairs officer with the North Carolina National Guard State Partnership Program added that he would like to see unit-level exercises between the BDF and the U.S. Air Force.

"We are committed to our relationship with Botswana and looking to expand it for the long term. Our goal is to assist them to become self-sustaining. We want to become a partner that works alongside them," Shinn said.
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