THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana (Aug. 13, 2012) -- Marines from the Anti-terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division from Anchorage, Alaska, and Billings, Mont., as well as Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment from the New Jersey National Guard, conducted infantry training exercises for soldiers of the Botswana Defense Force over a period of six days at Thebephatshwa Air Base, Botswana.
The training is part of Southern Accord 12, an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together U.S. military personnel with their counterparts from the BDF to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
While Soldiers and Marines from the United States do not often deal with animal poachers like the soldiers from Botswana, much of the training and tactics are very similar.
"They're very excited, highly motivated and eager to learn how we do our training," said Lance Cpl. Leonard Savage, an infantryman with D Company, Anti-terrorism Battalion. "The BDF asks a lot of questions but mainly they want to know how they are doing and what they can do to improve."
The training consisted of basic first aid, patrolling techniques, reacting to an ambush, vehicle search, vehicle control point and detainee operations. While these are key elements in the training of American Soldiers, the practical application for the BDF becomes evident as the service members from both countries take breaks between classes and share stories about their experiences with poachers.
"Some of our guys have never been to this type of exercise but the experience [U.S. forces] are bringing is of paramount importance," said 1st Lt. Morebodi Tjaikhwa, a platoon commander with the BDF.
Each training lane gives the junior enlisted BDF soldiers an opportunity to experience the tasks, and a chance to be the leader of a team alongside U.S. Soldiers and Marines.
"For the few days we've been together, I feel that we do interact without any rift and therefore we've made some friends," said Tjaikhwa. "I hope they appreciate the opportunity."