1 Para DR Congo-bound to boost FIB


An additional contribution by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to the United Nations (UN) Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (FIB), in the form of a quick reaction force (QRF), is ready to go.

The QRF, first conceptualised as part of the only UN peacekeeping mission worldwide with an offensive mandate two years ago, will see a contingent from 1 Para Battalion move to the central African country as the second operational one. It will join a Nepalese QRF deployed to the DRC in March, with two more from other troop contributing countries still to come. The QRFs will provide a speedier response to incidents as part of the FIB offensive mandate to protect Congolese civilians from rebel groups.

It’s been a long and probably, frustrating, time for the elite airborne soldiers whose preparation was interrupted by what SANDF correspondent Lieutenant Commander N Mhlongo refers to as “unforeseen challenges”. This saw a number of RTUs (return to unit) for training to be redone. Preparation for the continental deployment saw jungle warfare and mission readiness training done with verification processes undertaken and confirmed by a UN team.

On completion of preparation at the SA Army mobilisation centre outside Bloemfontein on the De Brug training area, the ready-to-go QRF soldiers were given an official send-off by Joint Operations Headquarters Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Lester Gardiner, also Acting General Officer Commanding Joint Operations.

“Throughout the uncertainty and some resistance, you pulled through and demonstrated discipline and resilience. This is why you as 1 Para Battalion are deemed to be cream of the crop; the best of the best. You never faltered in your commitment and the ethos of soldiering in general and being a Paratrooper as the pinnacle of achievement. Your motto: Ex Alto Vincerus (should be Vincimus) means: We conquer from above. Live Up to it. Go Well, Godspeed and make us proud,” the one-star said at a farewell parade on 14 May.