It’s a long way from Mafikeng in South Africa’s North West to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, including the North Oicha and Bwanasura districts, where 10 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion finds itself at present as an active component of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and its quick reaction forces (QRFs).
To boost morale and ensure all is well on their front, the men and women from Mafikeng were visited by FIB Commander, Brigadier General Enoch Ntonya and his staff officers, calling on the Erengeti permanent operating base and Maya Moya temporary operating base.
The purpose of the visit, RSA Battalion (RSABATT) public information officer Lieutenant Rammilane Letsoalo reports, was to hear of challenges in conducting operations against armed insurgent groups as well as ensuring the necessary support for continued operations at the current level. Ntonya, himself an experienced DRC hand, engaged with troops at both bases and spoke from operational experience when motivating the South Africans to keep up with the standard of work shown in three months of deployment to date.
“I want to commend you and your commanders for your timeless efforts with continuous robust day and night patrols you have been conducting, especially Operation Utwala IV. On your level you might not see the far-reaching good implications of the good work you are doing, just keep it up,” is how he is reported verbatim by the South African military communication officer.
In addition to soldiering, the men and women of 10 SAI also do their bit for civil/military relations by way of quick impact projects to win the hearts and minds of the local populace.
The SANDF is rotating troops in DRC and last month concluded the force preparation Exercise Madulo at the Entabeni training area in Limpopo, used to simulate jungle warfare.
The SANDF has elements deployed with the FIB in eastern DRC, with the QRF in Goma and with the Composite Helicopter Unit (CHU) supporting the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission.
Earlier this year, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise revealed the DRC deployment cost R801 million in 2019; R637 million in 2020; R691 million in 2021and R674 million in 2022.