One imagines at least a handful of the more than seven thousand followers of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) LinkedIn social media account were concerned by a posting indicating mission planning was underway “despite current circumstances” in a foreign country not familiar to many South Africans.
The post, authored by Lieutenant Colonel Mashadi Tswidi, had it that “Head of Mission Ambassador W Hhlapo” attended an “integrated mission planning team” briefing. From photos accompanying the post it appears the session was held at the Mission Planning Centre on the grounds of the Army College in Thaba Tshwane. The post continued “upon completion of the opening address, the Head of Mission outlines the objectives and emphasises the timeline on the completion of the mission during his briefing to the role players involved in this Integrated Planning mission (sic)”.
According to the post, participants included “military component, SA Police Service, civilian component, ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the four integrated mission planning team were all in attendance (sic)”.
“The integrated mission planning team seems very inspired and positive on their task ahead and believes that the mission will prove to have a successful outcome, despite the current circumstances currently prevailing in Carana (sic),” is the concluding sentence of the post and where the give-away becomes apparent to those with more than a passing interest in matters military.
“Carana” is taken from “The Carana Scenario” and is a fictitious country off Africa’s east coast originally created by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in 2002/03 as a foundation for scenario-based training exercises by African peacekeeping forces. It was subsequently tweaked and fine-tuned by European and African Union planners and is still in use.
This much was made clear when defenceWeb enquired about which exercise was upcoming, where it would be held and which services, units and regiments were involved.
An apologetic senior officer from the Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SANDF explained to defenceWeb the post came from a module of the Junior Command and Staff Duties Course currently underway.
“That should not have been on social media,” he said and true to his word the post was deleted soon after, leaving those wanting to know what possible interest South Africa could have in stabilising “Carana” when they had no idea where the country is.
“It is one module of the course and is conducted independently of other country representatives on course due to COVID-19,” defenceWeb was told.
So, if you were worried about Carana/South Africa relations – relax! There will be no expeditionary force leaving for a strange destination.