South African military involvement in Mozambique by way of an SADC (Southern African Development Community) Mission looks set to increase with 2 SA Infantry Battalion reported as finished with preparation and training ahead of deploying to the East African country.
2 SAI was originally based in what was the South African enclave of the then South West Africa, moving to Zeerust post Namibian independence in 1990.
The North West-based infantry battalion did jungle warfare training at Entabeni in Limpopo, seemingly the current training area of choice for jungle warfare above previously used Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.
Prior to the jungle training phase, 2 SAI was at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape between August and September.
“Not all training objectives were achieved during this period. The remaining training objectives were carried out at Entabeni Training Area,” a report attributed to Lieutenant Commander Nombuso Mhlongo has it.
“Jungle warfare training is intended to train and validate combat-readiness of the battalion to be a robust, versatile and aggressive force to sustain and overcome any eventuality and operate in a hostile environment day and night. Training also assessed if the battalion has enough skilled and adequately trained personnel and if they own adequate stocks of equipment in good working order.
“Additional to jungle warfare training, subject matter experts on law of armed conflict (LOAC), negotiations, civil military co-ordination (CIMIC), sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), environmental awareness and resilience conducted presentations and lectures from 10 to 12 November.
“Weather conditions provided practical and ‘real feel’ experience for soldiers under training for jungle conditions. Training objectives covered included orientation, rivers and streams obstacle crossing techniques, survival techniques as well as evasion and escape, foot patrols, infiltrating through dense jungle terrain and navigation in dense vegetation using compass and GPS devices,” the SANDF said.
Other aspects covered were survival techniques, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), booby traps, food preparation, shelter and fire making.
Immediate action drills training confirmed all drills, including weapon handling, section leader commands and situation analysis, are conducted correctly. Soldiers practiced quick and accurate shooting at unexpected targets day and night (jungle lane shooting/bush lane), platoon offensive drills in jungle terrain, quick kills, ambushes and attacks.
Depending on when 2 SAI’s utilisation is announced by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa, the unit could either find itself back in Zeerust or awaiting final preparations at the SA Army mobilisation centre outside Bloemfontein.
Up to 1 500 SANDF personnel are authorised to deploy to Mozambique, less than 300 Special Forces have been deployed since July with the main task of collecting intelligence as well as resupply and logistics support, mainly to Rwandan and Mozambican forces.