New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
1 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A CH-47F Chinook Helicopter from 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, Hawaii Army National Guard, carries infantrymen from 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard to Shoshong Range during a field training exercise at... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
2 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Infantrymen with Company A, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, reach their target objective after exiting a CH-47F Chinook Helicopter during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Sho... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
3 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Mortarmen of Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment out of New Jersey, fire carry their equipment to their firing positions during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong Range in Botswana, Africa. SA... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
4 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Dhruv Jani (left) and Pvt. John Donatucci of Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, fire 60mm mortar rounds downrange during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012 Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
5 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pfc. Tyler Castor (left) and Pfc. Brandon Wood of Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, fire 60mm mortar rounds down range during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shosho... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
6 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Jason Sanchez of Company A, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, fires live rounds down range during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong Range in the Republic of Botswa... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
7 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Dhruv Jani of Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, prepares to drop a 60mm mortar round during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong Range in The Republic of B... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
8 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pfc. Brandon Wood with Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, out of New Jersey, carries 60mm mortar tubes back from his firing location during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong Range in Botswan... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
9 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Infantrymen of Company A, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, move through the live fire range during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at Shoshong Range in Botswana, Africa. SA12 is... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
New Jersey soldiers perform assault and support-for-fire missions
10 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Infantrymen with Company A, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, reach their target objective during a field training exercise at Southern Accord 2012, Aug. 10, 2012, at the Shoshong Range in Botswana. SA12 is a com... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

SHOSHONG, The Republic of Botswana (Aug. 15, 2012) -- The ground shook as satchel and improvised Bangalore charges packed with C-4 explosives detonated, to clear the way for 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard, Aug. 11, in The Republic of Botswana.

Unrelenting mortar and small-arms fire filled the air with a deafening orchestra of explosions, as rounds impacted the dry, African desert. While support-for-fire rounds landed, infantrymen of Company A rushed the simulated battlefield through dust and debris in tactical bounding movements.

The high-tempo assault and support-for-fire mission was part of Southern Accord 2012, a large combined, joint exercise designed to enhance military capabilities and interoperability between U.S. military forces and the Botswana Defense Force, or BDF.

"They're just like us," said Pvt. Rusty Rogers from Point Pleasant, N.J., and infantryman with Company A, 1-114th. "Most of the BDF perform the same jobs we do, just a little bit differently, which has made it fun for us to learn from one another."

Once the dust settled, flames still smoldered from detonated ordnance and expended ammunition, creating a mirage-like haze in the air as U.S. Soldiers advanced toward their objective to eliminate their target.

"This is my first time overseas and my first time firing rounds with my new team," said Camden, N.J., native, Pfc. Brandon Wood with Company C, 1-114th. "It's a whole new experience, far different than what I expected. Learning a new culture and being around my team for the first time has given me that deployment mindset in an atmosphere close to the real thing."

Wood's favorite part about being a mortarman is firing rounds and carrying the heavy gear. He said it is hard work, but it feels like an accomplishment at the end of the day. He also loves the sound of the rounds making contact.

"There is nothing like hearing the sound of a mortar," said Wood. "It's like magic."

Once the assault team reached the ridge where Company C provided supporting fire, the teams switched, which allowed the BDF a chance to run the lanes. Three separate assaults and support-for-fire missions were completed in addition to the BDF live-fire missions.

"This has been a great opportunity to learn from one another," said Voorhees, N.J., native, Pvt. John Donatucci of Company C, 1-114th. "To see how the BDF run their missions and teach them how we run ours has provided great training. It's also a unique experience to train with a foreign military force."

Related Links:

U.S. Africa Command

U.S., Botswana Special Forces train together

Collective training creates partnership between U.S., Botswana forces

Training at Southern Accord 2012 demonstrates strong partnership between U.S., BDF

Chicago Soldiers teach rapid trauma response in Botswana

Army.mil: Africa News

STAND-TO!: Southern Accord 12

New Jersey Army National Guard on Facebook

New Jersey Army National Guard

U.S. Army Africa