Visit to the Botswana Defence Force Staff College (Botswana)
Gaborone, Botswana, Friday, May 17, 2013
Thank you for your warm welcome. I am delighted to have the opportunity to tour this impressive military education facility during my visit to Botswana.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, I feel it is a special privilege to visit the Botswana Defence Force Staff College. This institution is truly a wonderful symbol of the relationship between Canada and Botswana, particularly so given that defence relations is a cornerstone of our ties.
Our partnership is especially close in the realm of military training and education. Our two countries are close partners in the Military Training and Cooperation Program, and many members of the Botswana Defence Force have undergone training and education in Canada.
Today, the Botswana Defence Force is delivering Canadian-designed peacekeeping training programs throughout this region, a fact which fills me and indeed all Canadians with great pride.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on your commitment to human rights, international security and democratic development in this region and elsewhere in Africa.
As the ongoing need for peacekeeping training tells us, peace is never a once-and-for-all achievement. Instead, human security and stability are achieved and renewed, or eroded and lost, on a daily basis. I am aware of the recent opening of your own Peace Support Training Centre and can only encourage you to continue developing that facility. The Botswana Defence Force has backed up its desire for peace with action, and for that you have the admiration and respect of all Canadians.
I am also delighted to note that the curriculum for this staff college was developed in close co-operation with members of the Canadian Forces. In Canada, I often have the privilege of speaking with and celebrating the achievements of our men and women in uniform. I am constantly impressed by their dedication and excellence.
No doubt you, too, have seen these qualities in the Canadian Forces members with whom you have worked.
And by the same token, Canadian soldiers who have had the opportunity to work with members of your Defence Force have been most impressed with your sense of duty and professionalism.
This new staff college brings together two of my great passions: learning and service to country.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a first-class military training. At this college, aspiring officers will receive the broad education that is so essential to success in a modern military. The College’s close association with the University of Botswana serves this core need to broaden intellectual capacity and enhance decision making abilities. As a former university administrator, I applaud this initiative. More than any piece of equipment, time spent here will equip those who serve for the rest of their careers.
Quite simply, it will inform everything they do.
Let me emphasize again the importance of broad training for our servicemen and women, in both military matters and more general subjects.
This is critical because, as my predecessor the Right Honourable Vincent Massey once said, a broad education allows us to better understand what we are defending, as well as how to do so.
As you know, what we aim to defend is nothing less than democracy, human rights and the rule of law. That is as true for Batswana as it is for Canadians.
To quote Massey directly:
“The defence of our way of life is more than a technique. It is a calling. One cannot defend unfamiliar ground. You come here to know what you have to defend as well as how to defend it.”
You may be interested to know that I shared these words with officers-in-training at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The fact that I now share them with you here in Glenvalley, Botswana, is perhaps another indication of how much we have in common, despite the geographical distances that separate us.
The people of Canada and of Botswana share deep ties rooted in our common values, and I am delighted to see our respective militaries playing a lead role in our friendship.
Long may we work together for a more peaceful and prosperous world.