For Queen and Empire: British Military Assistance and Influence in Post-Colonial Botswana, 1977 1987

Main Article Content

Bafumiki Mocheregwa


While the establishment of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in 1977 was a hasty product of the
Rhodesian war (1966-1979), both the general structure and direction of this new armed force were a
British affair. Being a former colonial master with a strong army, it was not surprising to see the BDF
adopt a British military culture. However, British influence on the affairs of Botswana’s new military grew
significantly between 1977 and 1987. Using new oral and written primary sources, this paper explores the
circumstances around the establishment of the BDF and offers a critical analysis of the nature and extent
of British involvement in this period. The organic relationship between the newly formed BDF and the
British government seemed inevitable. Some could see it as a natural progression for Botswana’s new
military to seek military assistance from its former colonial master. However, the financial motivations of
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and their new programme called the United Kingdom
Military Training Assistance Scheme (UKMTAS) are questionable as they fostered an over-reliance of
new militaries such as the BDF on UK funds. It was no coincidence that UKMTAS started operating in the
1960s when newly independent countries were struggling to source funds to build their new armed forces.

Article Details