Viewing cable 05GABORONE751

05GABORONE7512005-06-03 06:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Gaborone
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1.  Summary: Lt. General Matshengeyo Fisher, Commander of 
Botswana's Defense Force, on May 27 briefed the Ambassador, 
DATT and Pol/Econ Chief on the French-supported RECAMP 
exercises to be held June 10-25 in northern Botswana. 
Thirteen countries of the southern African region are 
expected to contribute 2,842 participants. The objective is 
to achieve interoperability for the southern African brigade 
that, within the African Union framework, will eventually be 
deployed for peacekeeping operations.  Fisher's PowerPoint 
presentation dwelled on the costs of the exercise and the 
budget shortfalls for it, with a broad hint that USG 
financial support would be greatly welcome.  End summary. 
¶2.  Ambassador Huggins met with Botswana's Defense Force's 
(BDF)General Matshengeyo Fisher on May 27 at the latter's 
request, at the BDF headquarters in Mogoditshane. Also 
present were DAO and PolOff.  The meeting was called at 
General Fisher's request.  He began by describing Exercise 
Thokgamo (the word refers to calmness or peace), a brigade- 
sized multi-national peacekeeping exercise, and a 
continuation of military cooperation between Botswana and 
France, specifically under the RECAMP program, which 
reinforces African peacekeeping capabilities.  Hosted by the 
BDF, and to take place from June 10-25, all Southern African 
Development Community (SADC) members had been invited. 
Fisher expressed pleasure at Angola's confirmation of 
participation. Exercise Thokgamo would be held in four 
locations adjacent to the Okavango Delta, near Maun. The 
objective would be to provide practice in conducting a 
multinational PKO under a UN, and AU or SADC mandate for 
what would eventually be a SADC brigade within the African 
Union ambit.  At present, Fisher stated, the SADC brigade is 
still in the planning stage, and would go through military 
officers' committees before being submitted to SADC's 
council of ministers and then the SADC summit. 
¶3.  General Fisher's PowerPoint presentation showed that all 
13 SADC countries would send battalions (numbering 1,721 
troops) and companies. The 14th Infantry Brigade would be 
divided into the 141st Battalion headed by Botswana, and 
would consist of 461 troops, with A Company (160) from 
Botswana; B Company from Malawi (142) and C Company (159) 
from Lesotho.  The 142nd Battalion, headed by Zimbabwe, 
would consist of 510 troops, and would be formed by A 
Company (Zimbabwe, 200); B Company (Botswana 160) and C 
Company (Mozambique 150).  The 143rd Battalion, headed by 
Zambia, at 760 strong, would consist of A Company (Zambia, 
180); B Company (Botswana 160); C Company (Swaziland, 170); 
D Company (Angola, 100); E Company (Namibia, 150). (Note: 
All unit designations are fictitious and were created for 
the purpose of this particular Peacekeeping exercise). 
¶4.  Specialized elements participating will include: 
Paratroopers Company (150 from RSA); Signals Company 
(Botswana, 94); Engineers Company (Botswana 95); 
Belligerents-rebel forces (Botswana, 300); Special Forces 
(Botswana, 20); Ex Support Troops (300). RSA would 
contribute 150 paratroopers; there would be 4 specialized 
companies totaling 400 troops, the air component would 
number 120, the French participants would be 93; the 
exercise support troops would total 300, and the joint 
military headquarters would number 58.  An unspecified 
number of Military Police, Medical Support, Geospatial 
specialists (Botswana and RSA) and Logistically Support 
elements (RSA) would also be deployed. A total of 2,842 
persons would be engaged in the exercise.   General Fisher 
stated that Mozambique had committed to send a peacekeeping 
force to Burundi following the exercise. 
¶5.  The rest of the presentation was devoted to tallying the 
costs, especially those for transportation/fuel by road and 
by air, and feeding costs.  The entire exercise was 
calculated to amount over USD BWP 4,124,500.00 (approx. USD 
756,500). General Fisher stated that his budget had 
decreased over the past years.  While France and RSA can 
manage cost-sharing, other nations might be able to 
contribute partially, but insufficient to cover the 
financial outlay.  Fisher stated he had appealed to 
ambassadors from EU countries as well as to SADC, but he 
left the door open for the USG to contribute, and reiterated 
that the exercise was a necessary first step prior to actual 
PKO by the units.  Interoperability was the key word. 
¶6.  Our response was noncommittal, given the proven USG 
record of military assistance to the BDF.  Ambassador 
Huggins asked whether there would be standardization of 
equipment once the SADC brigade would be formed.  Fisher 
responded that it would be difficult to say.  DAO observed 
that memorandums of understanding provide a mechanism for 
regional militaries to agree to standardize. When discussion 
turned to Botswana's current status in contributing to PKO 
on the continent, General Fisher pointed out that Botswana 
has only one C-130 in functioning order.  He was 
dissatisfied with the repairs done on the other by RSA 
company Denel. 
¶7.  Ambassador Huggins noted that in a discussion with 
FonMin Merafhe, Botswana's contribution to UN PKO in Darfur 
was described as being 2 police officers and 1 Lt.-Col. 
General Fisher stated that a further 10 experts had been 
requested and the GOB had approved this.  Fisher added since 
the initial request the AU has requested three more officer, 
one brigadier and two lieutenant colonels.  The request for 
the additional three officers was likely to be approved. 
¶8. Comment:  Given the meager contribution of GOB thus far 
to PKO in Darfur, proportionate to the USG military 
assistance extended to the BDF, General Fisher's request to 
us for further financial aid for Exercise Thokgamo fell 
flat, as he himself realized.  Although logical to hold a 
regional exercise before actual PKO deployment, Botswana's 
BDF hosts will have to look elsewhere for immediate support 
for their June 10-21 exercise.