THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana – Logistics is the backbone of any large-scale operation, and one group of Illinois Army National Guard soldiers is providing that support. Soldiers from the 405th Brigade Support Battalion are currently in Botswana, Africa, supporting Southern Accord 12.
SA12 is a combined joint exercise meant to strengthen the partnership between U.S. forces and the Botswana Defense Force through humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation.
Battalion commander Lt. Col. Rodney Boyd of Naperville, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 405th BSB out of North Riverside, Ill., explained the role of Task Force Logistics as supporting nearly 1,300 BDF and U.S. forces on the ground in Botswana. The unit is responsible for mission essentials such as food, fuel, ammunition and transportation arrangements for the service members participating in SA12.
The soldiers of the 405th are not alone in performing this mission, said Boyd. They work very closely with their BDF counterparts to juggle all the logistical pieces. The BDF help especially with purchasing local items and services to keep the mission going.
“We understand each other,” Boyd said. “Their willingness to learn about our operation and our willingness to learn about how they operate has been helpful in making this work. We’re not terribly different as far as how our armies operate. We have similar ideas of how we support our forces.”
BDF Capt. Kabo Moswenyane, commander of the transportation squadron, assists with transportation requests and scheduling. He said his job has been very hectic due to difficulties with fuel suppliers and the high volume of transportation missions. Despite these difficulties however, he said the mission continues to go smoothly.
“I’ve learned a lot from our counterparts,” he said. “Everything is in black and white. They have manuals to look at, somewhere to refer to. Everything is documented… It makes your job very easy if you have somewhere to refer to.”
Moswenyane hopes to start using a documentation system within the BDF in the future. Other than the differences in documentation, he said logistics operate very similarly in both forces.
“It was a very good exercise, Moswenyane said. “I think it was one of the best exercises of this kind. It was well planned, logistically. Everything was in place.”
Boyd echoed that sentiment.
“We train a lot back in the States, but rarely do we get the opportunity to do a real live mission like what we’re doing here,” he said. “I know all these soldiers here working this task force, no matter what they do for the rest of their careers, are going to remember, ‘…now we know what it takes to support a force.’”