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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Border protection mobility packages almost a reality

SA Army mobility packagesAn SA Army project to provide soft-skinned transport for use in the border protection deployment comes to fruition next week when the SANDF Joint Operations Chief takes the new mobility package vehicles into service.

Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo will be on hand at Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal to take the first of 375 modified Toyota Landcruisers into service. The first public mention of the new specialist border protection assets was by SA National Defence Force Chief, General Solly Shoke, in his introductory remarks to the 2015/16 Department of Defence annual report, covering the financial cycle ending on 31 March 2016.

The country’s top soldier wrote: “The requirement to complement our forces on the borderline with an appropriate suite of mobility packages cannot be delayed any further. Given the resource constraints, a limited consignment of these packages has been procured. It is our hope that in the next financial year, the budget appropriated to the Department of Defence will give the SANDF command cadre enough leverage to focus on strategic, operational and tactical mobility over and above increasing our footprint on the borders”.

In October last year there were indications at least some of the mobility packages, including a few modified to serve as field ambulances, logistic support and command and command vehicles, were ready for evaluation with a view to compiling driver and other operational training.

Some of the modified vehicles were seen undergoing testing at Armscor’s Gerotek facility, west of Pretoria. Apart from Joint Operations, input for development was supplied by the Logistics and Signals formations as well as the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and the defence, peace, safety and security division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The national research and development organisation was involved in the development of the roll cage and improving stability to make it more user friendly in the tough off-road conditions of border protection.

A military name for the mobility package has not yet been officially divulged, although the troop carrier derivative is tentatively called a troop pack. It carries half a stick – five soldiers – the same as the soft-skinned one ton 4X4 utility vehicle it replaces.

The logistic variant will be used for field replenishment of items such as fuel, water, ammunition, rations and medical supplies while the command and control variant will be a roving unit with a communications suite including radios and mobile phones.

Unconfirmed indications are the deployment of mobility packages at company levels will be 18 troop carriers and three each of logistic, command and control and ambulances.

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