Combat Team Alpha sets up base in Macomia ahead of operations


The arrival of Combat Team Alpha (CTA) in Mozambique strengthens the South African military presence in the regional task force and, as is the norm with deployments, a proper base has to be set up and contact established with local forces and civic leaders.

These priorities mean soldiers, no matter their musterings, work alongside Sappers (termed the engineering department in reportage by Lieutenant Commander Nombuso Mhlongo of Joint Operations), lending a hand to ensure the base meets the necessary requirements. This includes accommodation, ablution and bath/shower facilities as well as kitchen and mess – all the basic requirements for troops in camp so they can effectively execute the tasks ahead.

“Much work is in the capable hands of the engineering department. The construction section comprising builders, welders, carpenters, electricians and the Technical Service Corps as well as those responsible for earthworks using construction machinery and mobile water purification have been hard at work ensuring the base is habitable,” the communication officer reports.

The importance of communications saw signals equipment and installations done immediately on arrival at what will be CTA home base in Mozambique. Another urgent task – executed speedily – was acquisition of detailed maps for the team’s area of responsibility.

The largest CTA component is supplied by 2 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion from Zeerust with Tempe’s 1 Parachute Battalion providing the team’s other combat element.  The move to Mozambique from the SA Army mobilisation and demobilisation centre outside Bloemfontein was done in stages last month with all airlift provided by private charter.

With the men and women under her command at work establishing what will be a home from home for the foreseeable future, CTA Commander Lieutenant Colonel Suraia Cambinda did the courtesy call round. Meetings with Forcas Armadas de Defesa de Mocambique (FADM) in Macomia, under the leadership of Colonel Jose Phakula, as well as local police chiefs paved the way for good relationships and future co-operation.

In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Parliament approved deployment of 1 495 soldiers to Cabo Delgado, with the SANDF component set to increase from 500-plus personnel on the ground. Indications are up to 1 200 personnel could be deployed under CTA.

CTA elements  arrived in Mozambique at the end of May and were welcomed by SAMIM Force Commander, South African Major General Xolani Mankayi.

Between 60 and 80 armoured personnel carriers, mostly Casspirs, are expected in Pemba as part of the deployment.