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Archive: Navy setting up rapid deployment force for peacekeeping

The Navy plans to better contribute to peacekeeping in Africa by setting up a naval rapid deployment force (NRDF), Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu said in Durban on Monday.
DEFENCE-NAVY-PEACEKEEPING
DURBAN Nov 21, 2005 Sapa
NAVY SETTING UP RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE FOR PEACEKEEPING
The Navy plans to better contribute to peacekeeping in Africa by setting up a naval rapid deployment force (NRDF), Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu said in Durban on Monday.
"The SA Navy is currently looking at increasing our participation in peace support operations and we have a concept of establishing a NDRF that will be able to operate alongside our land forces in these missions. The first contingent of this force is scheduled to be in place by early 2007," Mudimu added.
Responding to questions during a briefing at Naval Station Durban on Salisbury Island in the city`s harbour, Mudimu said the NRDF would be built around the navy`s corps of divers and the operational boat squadron that operates small patrol vessels.
The navy currently had five harbour protection boats – with crews and support personnel – deployed on Lake Tanganyika, where they were supporting a UN peace mission in Burundi.
"Their presence has already served as deterrent that resulted in bringing back local activities on the lake and preventing arms smuggling," Mudimu said.
(An aside: The crocodile-infested lake was the scene of a naval battle between colonial British and German forces during World War One.)
The NRDF will also include elements that have received infantry training to protect the navy`s patrol corvettes in low security harbours and naval shore parties.
This force would be the navy`s contribution to the African Standby Force (ASF), he added.
Mudimu said there was a tendency to under rate the sea service`s contribution to the ASF, but areas where its role would be key was combating piracy of the sort seen of Somalia recently (where two United Nations ships were hijacked and a passenger liner attacked), human and drug trafficking as well as poaching – a scourge that was increasing as the world`s fishing stocks dwindled. 
Mudimu, who was speaking on the sidelines of the annual navy diving exercise, had noting but praise for his fleet support divers, saying they play a vital and unique role.
"Their duties in support of our vessels include conducting bottom searches to ensure no dangerous devices have been attached to a vessel, underwater repairs of vessels, salvage of underwater objects, search and rescue operations, assisting with the docking and undocking of vessels, inspections of underwater fittings, underwater demolitions, rendering safe of underwater explosive devices and mine clearance operations," Mudimu explained.
"In addition our divers play a significant role in support of our submarine operations. These are crucial activities ranging from submarine rescue through to the recovery of exercise torpedoes."
Mudimu said the divers had made great strides in becoming demographically representative without dropping standards.
Twenty-three potential divers were undergoing "enabling training" to become divers. Of them, 20 were black, including a woman.
"This achievement is due to the commitment and dedication of white divers who were aware of the need to reflect the demographic composition of our country in this fraternity.
They willingly displayed their readiness to contribute by imparting their unique skills to these youngsters."
The drive was being led by Captain Jimmy Schutte, also officer commanding the patrol corvette SAS Mendi.
Mudimu also said the transformation of the Naval Reserve is in an advanced stage of implementation and soon we will have reserve members attached to all vessels and units within the navy.
"This will not only ensure the continuation training and readiness of these members but also contribute to the realisation of the ‘one force` concept," Mudimu said.
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