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Africa Invasion: Botswana to Host American Airbase

Botswana is inching closer to hosting a United States of America military airfield, fresh reports have emerged. United States embassy in G...

Botswana is inching closer to hosting a United States of America military airfield, fresh reports have emerged.

United States embassy in Gaborone this week confirmed that plans are at an advanced stage to set up a military airfield in Botswana. 

There are claims that with the planed military airfield, a heavy American military presence in Botswana is also anticipated.

Sunday Standard was unable to establish whether the anticipated mini-airbase will be built inside Thebephatswa Airbase or at a different location in the country.
Reports Say America is Setting Army Base in Botswana 

In 2013 both the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and US embassy denied speculation that the construction of a military facility bankrolled by US Department of Defence to the tune of P100 million inside Thebephatshwa Air Base could in future become a doorway for America’s Africa Command (Africom).

Responding to Sunday Standard queries, US embassy spokesperson Ephraim Keoreng said “Any construction will depend upon the future availability of funding. These projects may focus on either airfield or support infrastructure necessary to move, train, lodge, and feed soldiers.”

The latest American military project has reignited speculation that Botswana is now a step closer to hosting Africom. There are even claims that the anticipated mini-base is expected to be under the leadership of Africom.

The outgoing commander of U.S. Army Africa Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams told the United States based military publication, that the American army will soon be responsible for a fifth security location site (military airfield), “slated to be stood up soon in Botswana.”

“We have very austere, lean, lily pads, if you will, all over Africa now,” Williams said.

Keoreng added that “based on the excellent cooperation in 2012 and our strong bilateral partnership, the United States would like Botswana to host Exercise SOUTHERN ACCORD again.”

“If Botswana does host another exercise, the United States will examine additional construction projects to support participants,” said Keoreng.

Reports indicate that Africa is the only continent in the world that remains without permanent US military presence, though several bases with American troops are dotted across various regions.

Botswana will join other four African countries that are currently hosting American military airfield and the American army will be in charge of the mini-airbase.

William is quoted as saying that of those four security locations in Africa, the American army is the caretaker for four – in Senegal, Ghana, Gabon and Uganda.

Despite both Botswana and the US denying an agreement on hosting AFRICOM is nigh, analysts say Botswana has not done enough to dispel these fears.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have since made it clear that they do not want a permanent US military base on the continent.

But reports indicate that there have long been suspicions that Botswana and Liberia are amenable to hosting the unit. Reports indicate that Africom is presently domiciled in Stuttgart, Germany, but is actively seeking a base in Africa. A military advisor told the US Congress last year that Africom would get its African home.

William said the planned military airfield and others in Senegal, Ghana, Gabon and Uganda are part of Africom’s response to increasing the American army posture and the “responsiveness of the U.S. military on the continent of Africa.”

He explained that these sites typically don’t hold U.S. troops and are sometimes used during training exercises. “But if needed or if there’s a likelihood of a potential challenge, the sites allow the U.S. military to stage up to 300 soldiers or Marines for a short-period of time,” he said.

“We can stage [them] so they can surge to an event,” he said. “They enable readiness on the continent, they’re in a position where we can respond better on the continent are able to react quicker.”

The cooperative security locations are part of “increasing our presence in Africa,” Williams said.

“We’ll go in an exercise there, use the facilities, make sure they’re up to speed in case we need them,” he said. - Online Sources 

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