THEBEPHATSWA AIR BASE, Botswana — Airmen from units across the U.S. and members of the Botswana defense forces kicked off MEDLITE 12, a two-week aeromedical evacuation exercise, Aug. 3, here.
The goal of MEDLITE 12 is to enhance U.S. and Botswana capabilities to work together by introducing the U.S. aeromedical evacuation system of patient movement to the Botswana defense force military medical personnel. The exercise will consist of classroom instruction and an aeromedical evacuation training scenario and will culminate with a mass casualty exercise Tuesday.
“We are expecting another exciting and successful mission with MEDLITE 12,” said Lt. Col. June Oldman, the mission director for the exercise, from the Oklahoma Air National Guard, 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. “Working with the Botswana defense forces is effortless and certainly a pleasure, and we are looking forward to the mission.”
MEDLITE 12 is the latest in a series of exercises involving U.S. military forces and partner militaries in Africa with the aim of establishing and developing military interoperability, regional relationships, synchronization of effort and capacity-building. It is being held for the first time in conjunction with SOUTHERN ACCORD 12, a joint annual exercise focused on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping operations.
After the Botswana defense force band played the national anthems of each country at the opening ceremony, the U.S. ambassador to Botswana, Michelle Gavin, described her vision for the exercise.
“We’re here to learn from each other and to teach each other,” she said. “In a little over two weeks, as you emerge from this exercise, both the Botswana defense forces and the U.S. forces will be better trained, more capable and, more importantly, you will know each other in ways you did not before, and that is clearly in all of our interests.”
Together, MEDLITE 12 and SOUTHERN ACCORD 12 have brought almost 700 U.S. military personnel to Botswana.
“This mission is truly a total force effort,” Oldman said. “It is a key element in a series of military-to-military activities that demonstrate the strong partnership and cooperation between the U.S. military and the Botswana defense forces.”