The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is the military of Botswana. It was formed in 1977. The commander in chief is the President of Botswana. The main force is the army, also there is an air wing, but no sea-going navy, although there is a river contingent attached to the ground forces.
At independence in 1966, Botswana made a conscious decision to not establish a standing military and focus instead on development and poverty alleviation, and instead created a small military police force for security. However, cross border incursions by Rhodesian and South African security forces in the mid-1970s led the government to conclude that the country needed a military to protect its sovereignty. The BDF was established in 1977. Following political changes in South Africa and the region, the BDF's missions have increasingly focused on anti-poaching activities, disaster-preparedness and response (including search and rescue), support to civil authorities and foreign peacekeeping. A well respected institution trusted by the political leadership, the BDF has seen its role increase over time to include non-traditional missions such as disaster response and reinforcement of the police during the holiday season and high crime periods. The BDF's professionalism and ability to successfully accomplish any task the government gives it has, at times, resulted in over tasking in support to civil authorities. In 2015 the BDF recruited its first female privates.
Botswana Defence Force consists of three separate service components each of which is commanded by a major general:
The BDF Command and Staff College is located at Glenn Valley.
The BDF ground forces consists of the following units:
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U.S. International Military Education and Training funds from the USA remain important to Botswana's officer training programme. Over 50 Botswana officers receive military training in the US each year; by 1999 approximately 85% of the BDF officers are said to have been trained through this arrangement.
The Air Wing comprises an estimated 44,000 trained personnel.
2017- On-going protesting in major Botswana cities.
In 1992 and 1993, a BDF contingent participated in Operation Restore Hope, a United States led coalition of forces to restore peace in Somalia. From 1993 to 1994, a team of BDF officers participated in a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda as observers. Those same years, BDF troops participated in ONUMOZ, the UN peacekeeping operation in Mozambique.
The BDF also participated in Operation Boleas, a SADC military intervention in Lesotho in 1998. This operation culminated in a re-training programme for Lesotho Defence Force members. From 1998–99, 380 BDF soldiers formed part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) task force to quell an internal uprising in Lesotho. Botswana withdrew its contingent when the situation was thought to be stable enough to no longer require their presence.
BDF has been conducting operational exercises with Defence Forces of neighbouring countries and other friendly forces. "Exercise Thokgamo" was one such exercise conducted in June 2005 in which SADC member states participated. Currently, the BDF has its personnel serving on an African Union Liaison Mission in Ethiopia/Eritrea and has military observers in Darfur, Sudan with UNAMID.
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Lexington Books, January 2001