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Botswana's Quality Leap

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  • Botswana's Quality Leap

    While getting familiar with Africa's security situation, it dawned upon me that one of the more interesting developments in Africa is currently under way in Botswana.
    Financed by its mineral wealth, Botswana seems to be undertaking a quality leap on its neighbours (with the obvious exception of the Republic of South Africa).

    All the defence forces in southern African countries are mainly light infantry forces and most of the defence budgets goes to paying salaries.
    However IMO the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) because of its better financial situation, has started to become one of the more professional forces in sub Saharan Africa.
    Botswana currently is on par in numbers with Namibia (with whom diplomatic relations are good) and spending the revenues of its minerals to get an qualitative advantage in equipment and training over the bigger but decaying Zimbabwe Defence Force.
    Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have become strained for some while and BDF seems to be focusing on the Zimbabwean border.

    Botswana obviously has several options how to give its defence force a qualitative edge over its neighbours.
    The issue has this attraction of 'what would I do if I ran the country' which I always find mind spinning. I have listed some options for your perusal:
    • Botswana could and seems to be concentrating on giving its light infantry a limited mechanised capability, by focusing on light tanks (it has over 80 now) and its logistic support so that it is better equipped to defend Botswana's strategic assets like capital Gaborone and the mining centres.
    • It could concentrate on an air mobile role for its existing light infantry elements. By doing so it BDF gives itself a strategic mobility in this huge but empty land. Currently Botswana has 3 Hercules plus some smaller transports planes. BDF has not developed paratroop capacity yet. This option might also look good while considering participation in future peacekeeping operations.
    • BDF could concentrate on modernizing its air force, combat (Close Air Support) and transport in particular. It has ten CF-5 aircraft, enough to take on the F-7s of the Zimbabwe Air Force or the MIG-21s of the Zambian Air Force, but cannot compare to the Su-27s(Flankers) of the Angolan Air Force.
    • It is always possible to proceed over a broad front and spend the defence budget on modernising a bit of all aspects of the BDF, including the ones not mentioned here. This might be a political astute choice to make.
    • or consider other options not mentioned here.
    11
    Botswana should expand its mechanized capability
    27.27%
    3
    Botswana should develop airborne capacity
    9.09%
    1
    Concentrate on the Air Force
    18.18%
    2
    Don't concentrate, all arms and branches should get (a bit) better
    27.27%
    3
    Other
    18.18%
    2
    Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 29 May 10, 15:55.
    BoRG

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

  • #2
    I'm for the equaling out in all branchs but then the question is, do they need to?
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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    • #3
      How to wage war in the huge expanses of Africa?

      My gut feeling in this case would be, to transform the light infantry into airborne and maintain it as long as possible as a force in being,keeping in mind that airborne forces have lost part of their effect once expended.

      Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
      I'm for the equaling out in all branchs but then the question is, do they need to?
      That would be my second choice, I'm turning into a politician more and more as I get older
      Good caveat however. I don't think they all need to.
      BoRG

      You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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      • #4
        My two cents worth is that they need to develop all arms of their forces. My argument would be that airborne troops are vulnerable in anything other than preemptive strikes, where they can be quickly extracted spending minimal time on the ground. Whilst this capability must be developed, to focus solely thereon would be a mistake as they are vulnerable to regular ground forces assisted by tanks and aircraft.

        In a what if situation, the area of conflict would have to be ascertained. If the fighting was to take place in Zimbabwe, where there is predominantly medium to dense bush, armour could be punished and the use of air-mobile tactics would be advantageous. However, in Botswana's interior regions the use of tanks would give them the edge. A large, strong, well trained and equipped mobile infantry that would be supported by arty and air would be my choice in most situations.

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        • #5
          I think the airforce is just too expensive, and so too the airborne (specially as they're more of a one-off use.)

          Developing all is a good idea, if they can be developed to a useful level. However, as a prioritization, I'd focus on the mechanization of the troops, as this offers a good cross between affordabililty, maintenance cost, and usefulness, IMHO.
          "We have no white flag."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by GMan88 View Post
            I think the airforce is just too expensive, and so too the airborne (specially as they're more of a one-off use.)

            Developing all is a good idea, if they can be developed to a useful level. However, as a prioritization, I'd focus on the mechanization of the troops, as this offers a good cross between affordabililty, maintenance cost, and usefulness, IMHO.
            Well, you and the Botswana High Command seem to be of one mind
            Development of the mechanized capacity is indeed the course that the Botswana Defence Force seems to be steering.
            BoRG

            You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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            • #7
              Very practical
              "We have no white flag."

              Comment


              • #8
                I would think something along the lines of what the South Africans used to do, ie truck mounted Infantry, Armored Cars and a few medium tanks. An Airborne rated Infantry seems kind of over priced for the return. A small Long Range Desert group of transports and a few Assault helicopters would do as well at less cost. A good Recon Company of San would also work. There are bound to be a few Hueys out there, or something equivalent to French Dolphins or Esquirrels that could be had at an affordable price.

                Speaking of Helicopters, I bet they can get some HINDS!

                I don't see them getting more than some Light Attack trainers to get experience in. All those fairly modern Fighters are expensive to operate and maintain. They would also have to hire foreign maintenance people.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  Mechanizing a segment of the ground forces gives Botswana a fast and powerful strike capability in the event of border incursion or insurgency. I like the idea that it shows they are serious about their national integrity.

                  Militarily a dozen F-16s would sure be a useful addition to the Air Force but the expense is probably just not justfied.
                  "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
                  George Mason
                  Co-author of the Second Amendment
                  during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

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                  • #10
                    I would opt on aiming for air superiority in the region to give the ground forces a safe blanket to operate under. Either add a little more to the air force's funding than the other branches or use it for increasing the army's ADA capabilities.
                    [Official Game Thread] "To the Berezina River" Napoleonic Game

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                    • #11
                      I think only medium to mid size countries benefit from an air force (I'm not talking about air transport only capability). Like a Navy, there is little or no capability of standing up to a major power, whereas land forces always have that capability to a lesser or greater extent. So on that basis I chose to increase mechanized capability.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Doing a quick Wiki look, Botswana has only about 2 million people, roughly 140,000 fit for service, and a military of about 12,000.
                        Wiki says the BDF is currently configured as follows:
                        1 armoured brigade,
                        2 infantry brigades,
                        4 infantry battalions,
                        2 armoured artillery, 1 engineer regiment
                        1 one commando regiment

                        I haven't seen the specific OOBs for these units, but given the size of the army overall, these units must be small.

                        Wiki also says there also an air force of 9 old F-5 varients (and 5 trainers), 5 transports, a number of small planes and a few helicopters of various types.

                        Given these conditions, and allowing for minimal expansion, I'd operate on Nathan Beford Forrest's dictum (which he really didn't say) to create an army that would "git thar fusest with the mostest."

                        I'd convert one of the infantry brigades and two of the infantry battalions to air assault formations and invest primarily in additional helicopters (as Pruitt pointed out, there are likely a number of HINDs available at a reasonable cost, same for MI-17s).

                        The rest of the infantry units would remain truck or AFV bound and be used to support the airmobile units. I don't know the inventory of the armored brigade, so I can't comment on whether an upgrade is necessary.

                        The Zimbabwean AF is based on the F-7, which is a Mig-21 varient, and the ZAF has 18 of them, according to Military Aviation Press. Wiki indicates there may be a dozen JF-17s on order. In light of this, I might also invest in a few (10) additional fighter/bomber types for the air force. Maybe the French would be willing to sell some Mirage 2000s.

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                        • #13
                          Ibis,

                          Keep in mind what the Long Range Desert Groups carrying SAS troops were able to do to Axis airfields. The South Africans were also very good at penetrating into other African countries. I doubt these F-7 and JF-17's will stationed at more than one or two places. I think Botswana would do well to raise some "Rat Patrols" to take out any threat aircraft.

                          If your motorized patrols can cancel out the other guy's Air Force,you can use almost any aircraft against them. Remember the Fouga Magisters of the IAF? I think they should go for affordable first on aircraft. The Hawk and Alpha Jet would make great advanced trainers and Light Strike aircraft.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                            Ibis,

                            Keep in mind what the Long Range Desert Groups carrying SAS troops were able to do to Axis airfields. The South Africans were also very good at penetrating into other African countries. I doubt these F-7 and JF-17's will stationed at more than one or two places. I think Botswana would do well to raise some "Rat Patrols" to take out any threat aircraft.

                            If your motorized patrols can cancel out the other guy's Air Force,you can use almost any aircraft against them. Remember the Fouga Magisters of the IAF? I think they should go for affordable first on aircraft. The Hawk and Alpha Jet would make great advanced trainers and Light Strike aircraft.

                            Pruitt
                            That would certainly be a more affordable option. And you're right the LRDGs were able to do serious damage to the Germans.

                            However, a lot has changed technologically since the 1940s, or even the 1970s. I'm quite sure the SAS would have loved the mobility offered by a helo or two. For the Botswanans, I think I think a heliborne force could perform the same types of tasks as the LRDGs performed, and also offer greater flexibility. Thats what I'm going for.

                            As for Hawks and Alpha jets, that would be a good option. I was thinking the French might be downsizing in the near future (budget cuts and all that) and the Botswanans might be able to pick up a more capable jet on the cheap. If thats not likely, then your air option is better. In reality, they might be better off picking up some more CF-5s since that plane alread makes up the backbone of the air force.

                            Good discussion buddy.

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