Ex Winter Solstice preparing SAAF for out of country deployment

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SA Air Force (SAAF) personnel are currently busy with a field training exercise (FTX) in preparation for external deployments.

The airborne service of the national defence force is using its Ditholo Training Centre, north of Pretoria, for this year’s Exercise Winter Solstice. Previous Winter Solstices were based in the Northern Cape and saw, in addition to command post components, aircraft flying various taskings, the majority for peace support and humanitarian operations.

Winter Solstice 2022 is, apart from external deployment preparation, largely in the heads and minds of senior SAAF personnel who planned it with no information about the exercise proper, aircraft taking part and drills to be exercised made public. It started last Friday (5 August) and ends on 23 August.

A final planning conference last month drew together strands from April’s initial planning conference. Among others, this saw intelligence and evaluation plans presented for a better understanding of the exercise scenario and execution, Lance Corporal Solomzi Ndlovu reports for the SAAF. The conference also saw expected outcomes from evaluators and those taking part tabled.

“Presentations and information were shared among different cells, with presentations of support plans and deliberations taking place to get all these plans integrated and aligned to exercise objectives, which led to a realisation as to how different cells relate to each other and with emphasis on the importance of continued consultations (sic),” is how Ndlovu reported the conference in the SAAF Command Post auditorium.

“Combat readiness and preparedness of soldiers is paramount to achieving success in all missions,” according to the one-striper who further notes Winter Solstice 2022 marks “the initial stage of mission readiness training to integrate SAAF training objectives for future external deployments”.