Force preparation, financing, logistics and armed vehicles for
14 SA peace missions in 11 years
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla says South Africa has taken part in 14 peace mission since 1999.
South African troops have served in United Nation and African Union missions in Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Comoros and Liberia among others.
Under Operation Fibre, SA deployed peacekeepers to Burundi on a bilateral basis from October 2001 to April 2003 and again from December 2006 to December 2009; while supporting the AU mission there from May 2003 to May 2004 and the UN force from June 2004 to December 2006.
Major General Derrick Mgwebi as the first UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) force commander when this force was established on June 1, 2004. “Under ONUB the maritime element was increased to a total of five Harbour Patrol Boats.” Following democratic elections in Burundi in 2005 ONUB began to reduce its forces. The SAAF aviation unit withdrew during April 2006, followed by the maritime unit in October 2006. “As South Africa had been the first country to deploy in support of the peace process in Burundi it was only fitting that the South African Infantry Battalion was the last ONUB unit to withdraw. This withdrawal commenced in phases from December 2006.” A VIP Protection Unit remained in Burundi from December 2006 onwards.
Makwetla continued that SA has so far assisted the AU with securing peace and stability in the Comoros islands five times. The Operation Triton took place in support of the OAU Mission in Comoros (OMIC) from November 2001 to February 2002. Triton II lasted April to May 2002. Triton III took place March to May 2004, Triton IV supported the AU Mission in the Comoros (AMISEC) March to July 2006, while Triton V did the same June to July 2007.
Triton I was to support OMIC collect weapons on the island of Anjouan. Five SANDF personnel were deployed with Lieutenant Colonel Charles Payne as OMIC commander. Triton II was to support OMIC oversee the elections held on the three islands that form the Union of the Comoros. Nine SANDF Military Observers and nine SANDF communication technicians consequently deployed. Colonel Bob Gibson was both the Chief Military Observer as well as the OMIC contingent commander.
The AU requested South Africa to also contribute observers in support of AMISEC over the period March to May 2004. “This request was later extended to include a SAAF fixed wing aircraft, deployed to render assistance to the SA Police Service training team. This contingent deployed as Operation Triton III,” Makwetla said.
Operation Triton IV was established during March 2006, when the AU requested South Africa to be lead nation for the latest AMISEC iteration. “This required South Africa to oversee the planning and sustaining of the entire AMISEC force. As a result of the deteriorating security situation in this country South Africa decided to deploy additional personnel – up to battalion size – for 10 days during the elections in June 2006. Following the elections and successful inauguration of the new President of the Union of Comoros, the South African contingent, which included rotary and fixed wing aircraft, returned to South Africa during July 2006.”
“The rendering of general military assistance to the Comoros continued with Operation Triton V, during which a small contingent, comprising a fixed wing aircraft with air- and ground crew members, deployed to the Comoros to assist the SA Police Services and the Department of Foreign Affairs during the elections of the President of the Island of Anjuan, which were held over the period June to July 2007.”
AMIS was terminated on December 31 2007 and became the first African Union – United Nations hybrid mission when it was replaced by the United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on January 1 2008. “The South African contingent … remained in Darfur in support of this hybrid mission. The UN requested South Africa to increase the contingent to a standard UN Infantry Battalion-size force during the rotation, which took place early in 2008.
“Although South Africa was ready to deploy the full Infantry Battalion as requested in support of UNAMID during the rotation in May 2008, challenges regarding the infrastructure within the mission area made it impossible for the SANDF to comply. The contingent was however increased during the November 2008 rotation. The current contingent is 760 members strong, with eight military observers and seven staff officers also deployed to the Sudan in support of UNAMID.
“Operation Teutonic was expanded later in 2005 (Teutonic II) with the deployment of additional personnel to the Eastern DRC to facilitate the refurbishing of the “brassage centres” (training centres) at Rumangabo and Nyaleki. The SANDF also became involved with the upgrading of the FARDC Military Hospital, situated at Goma. SANDF personnel involved in these refurbishing operations were deployed along with a fixed wing aircraft and crew from the SAAF. The tasks of Teutonic II were completed in September 2006 and forces returned to South Africa after handing over these refurbished centres to the Congolese.
“Teutonic I, now under command of Captain (SA Navy) Sonica van Rooyen, the first female South African mission commander, carried on with its activities in pursuance of Peace and Stability in the Region and on the Continent. Support to the Security Sector Reform in the DRC was elevated to a new level with the appointment and deployment of a Project Officer, Brigadier General Koos Liebenberg, and his support staff during January 2006. They were withdrawn from the DRC during October 2007 and replaced by a senior Advisory Team, under command of Major General Duma Mdtyuana. Teutonic I (currently 15 members) is still in the DRC, conducting integration of forces. It is however expected that the operation will terminate before the end of 2010.
Pristine was commanded by Colonel Lawrence Majola. The SANDF DDR monitors were eventually deployed to 11 DDR sites within the Ivory Coast. Due to the volatile security situation in the north of the country, it was decided not to deploy any DDR monitors to bases in this area. With the election of South Africa as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during the latter half of 2006 the South African Mediator at the time, President Thabo Mbeki, requested the AU to be relieved of his role as mediator. As a result, Operation Pristine withdrew from the Ivory Coast during December 2006.
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