SA, US troops prac­tise for joint peace-de­ploy­ment

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KEVIN RITCHIE

MORE than 1 000 South African and US sol­diers are busy learn­ing to work with each other – should they ever have to do a UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion to­gether.

The sol­diers from 2 SA In­fantry Bat­tal­ion and the SA Navy’s Mar­itime Re­ac­tion Squadron along with mem­bers of the 101st Air­borne Di­vi­sion, US Ma­rine Corps Re­serve and as­sorted US Na­tional Guard (mil­i­tary re­servists) have been joined by se­nior of­fi­cers re­hears­ing po­ten­tial UN-man­dated peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions on the con­ti­nent over the last 10 days at the SANDF’s com­bat train­ing cen­tre (CTC) in Lo­hatla in the North­ern Cape.

As US Bri­gadier-Gen­eral Wil­liam Pren­der­gast ex­plained yes­ter­day: “There’s a say­ing that we should not be ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards when the dis­as­ter oc­curs, but rather meet­ing be­fore­hand.”

The ex­er­cise is ti­tled Shared Ac­cord, an annual meet­ing be­tween el­e­ments of US Army Africa and other African armies, which re­turns to South Africa ev­ery three years. Next year, Ex­er­cise Shared Ac­cord will be held in Rwanda.

Pren­der­gast’s co-ex­er­cise direc­tor, SANDF Bri­gadier-Gen­eral Gus­tav Late­gan stressed that the ex­er­cise is part of an on­go­ing bi­lat­eral agree­ment be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Pre­to­ria re­gard­ing mil­i­tary co-op­er­a­tion and is not part of the SANDF’s peace­keep­ing du­ties in terms of its AU re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“We have been shar­ing lessons learnt from our cur­rent peace­keep­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo and util­is­ing 2 SAI (SA In­fantry) in par­tic­u­lar, for train­ing on this ex­er­cise as this is the next bat­tal­ion to be placed on standby for peace­keep­ing as part of the AU stand-by force.”

In turn, the US mil­i­tary has been teach­ing the SANDF of­fi­cers and sol­diers how it com­bats the use of im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices against it, which it has ex­pe­ri­enced in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“This is our op­por­tu­nity to train our younger sol­diers that have not seen this type of war­fare be­fore, for when they do de­ploy,” said Pren­der­gast.

Train­ing over the past 10 days has in­cluded be­ing am­bushed, tak­ing ca­su­al­ties and evac­u­at­ing them, guard­ing camps for dis­placed per­sons and safely run­ning con­voys.

The ex­er­cise cul­mi­nates next Wed­nes­day with a live-fire ex­er­cise at the CTC us­ing sol­diers from both coun­tries side-by-side.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.