RALEIGH, N.C. —
Three members of North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing Security Forces traveled Africa in late June to work side by side with their air force counterparts in Botswana in support of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
The Botswana Defense Force and the North Carolina National Guard have been state partners for 10 years, conducting more than 70 Army and Air Force engagements in Botswana and in North Carolina.
“It was great working with the BDF air force,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Stitt, a five-year veteran of the wing’s security force. “They were eager to work and learn best practices from our team, and we learned a few things ourselves.”
The North Carolina Air National Guard’s security forces are charged with protecting and defending the 145th Airlift Wing’s air base at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. They have similar capabilities as those of Army military police and frequently interact and collaborate with local, state and federal law enforcement.
State Partnership Program
The North Carolina National Guard has two state partnerships: Botswana and Moldova. Moldova is a small eastern European country between Ukraine and Romania and has been partners with the North Carolina Guard for 22 years.
“I have one overseas deployment, to the [United Arab Emirates] in 2015, and this is my first SPP mission,” Stitt said. “While in Botswana, we’d have morning classroom sessions and then move to the airfield to execute what was discussed in class. It was a great experience.”
This engagement serves as a starting point in anticipation for a larger U.S. Africa Command-sponsored multistate exercise in 2019 called Upward Minuteman.
Botswana engagements will only increase over the next 24 months, said Army Sgt. 1st Class James Andrews, the North Carolina Guard’s State Partnership Program coordinator. “Our strong relationship and ability to learn from each other’s forces is what makes this program successful,” he added.