THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana (Aug. 7, 2012) -- Training for Southern Accord 2012 commenced Aug. 2, at Thebephatshwa Air Base, as personnel from the U.S. military and Botswana Defense Force came together to share experiences and tactics which will enhance the readiness capabilities of both countries.
Southern Accord 2012, or SA12, is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored, U.S. Army Africa-led combined, joint exercise that brings together U.S. Army personnel with counterparts from the Botswana Defense Force to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations, aeromedical evacuation, and enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
"The training is going really well and the soldiers seem to be getting a lot out of it, along with the building of camaraderie between the Marines, BDF and other soldiers," said Capt. Robert Roma of Toms River, N.J., the commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey National Guard.
Over 300 soldiers, Marines and Botswana Defense Force will participate in the field training over a period of six days, culminating in a live-fire exercise which will combine the skills and tactics covered throughout the intensive training process.
"The experience our soldiers will gain from just being here in Africa and the interoperability between us and the BDF is invaluable," said Roma. "Getting to know the BDF and working with them, sharing our capabilities and understanding theirs is important right from the start."
After a short road march to the special forces compound on Thebephatshwa Air Base, the platoon-size elements conducted training at their respective stations, starting with classroom instruction before going into the practical exercise phase.
"The training is going OK so far," said Cpl. Mosweu of the Botswana Defense Force, who is part of the anti-poaching and border control unit. "A lot of what we are learning is similar to what we are taught in the BDF."
Instructors were split between soldiers of the 1-114 Infantry Regiment and Marines with the anti-terrorism unit based in Anchorage, Alaska, and Billings, Mont.
"I've worked with other forces where there was a language barrier but there doesn't seem to be one here," said Sgt. 1st Class Donju Frazier, a state correctional officer from Maple Shade, N.J., and platoon sergeant for Company A, 1-114th. "The BDF is eager to learn and very enthusiastic."
Overall, most service members seemed eager to learn all they could from their counterparts.
"We are accomplishing our goals by completing all of the soldier skills and tasks, but more important are the relationships that are being fostered through the interactions with the different groups involved in this mission," said Roma.