Training is the backbone of most military actions and operations so it is no surprise SA Army elements, particularly its Infantry Formation, devote much time and effort preparing soldiers for continental peacekeeping, an important component of South African foreign policy.
With its turn in the SA Battalion rotation of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the board, Doornkop, Soweto-based 21 SA Infantry Battalion sharpened its skills in jungle warfare with a month-long training stint in Limpopo’s Entabeni State Forest. The training area is close to Thohoyandou, home to 15 SA Infantry Battalion and was selected for jungle training due to better access to facilities including ammunition, medical and rations. The landward force previously used a remote area outside Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape for its jungle warfare training.
The jungle warfare training follows the command post and field training Exercise Phirima, conducted at the General De La Rey Training Area over the period 20 May to 16 June.
According to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) LinkedIn poster, second lieutenant Daniel Maluleke, jungle warfare training is “a prerequisite” for the MONUSCO deployment in the UN mission’s efforts to “bring durable change” to the strife-torn central African country.
Training covered river crossings, map/GPS reading, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) training, field craft, casualty evacuation, base protection, foot and vehicle patrols, fighting in built-up areas (FUBA) and helicopter drills.
The SANDF poster said the national defence force’s energy is also directed to neighbouring Mozambique “where atrocious activities of the jihadist insurgent group resulted in a sad state of affairs. Swaziland (eSwatini) is also experiencing civil unrest which constitutes a grave risk to its citizens and as such it become more important for the SANDF to intensify this type of training so it can respond to any situation.”
South African soldiers and other musterings are deployed to the FIB and its recent addition of country-staffed quick reaction forces (QRFs).
No indication is given of when the Gauteng infantry battalion will emplane for DR Congo but it is likely to be toward year-end. Ahead of the deployment soldiers will move to the SA Army mobilisation centre at De Brug for final medicals including the necessary vaccinations as well as thorough briefings on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
21 SA Infantry Battalion will take over from 15 SA Infantry Battalion currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.