Belt tightening in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has reached the stage where the country’s military will only have one international training exercise in the current financial year and indications are elements of the German military will be taking part.
This was made public in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENEs) tabled during Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget in February. The ENEs noted that “due to the 2019 national and provincial elections, only one joint inter-departmental, inter-agency and multinational (JIIM) military exercise will be conducted in 2019/20”.
“The only training exercise planned (scheduled) for the financial year 2019/20 is Exercise Good Hope which will be conducted in February/March 2020,” is the response by Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, Director: Defence Corporate Communication to a defenceWeb enquiry.
“The aim will be to exercise maritime co-operation between South Africa (sic) and German navies and it will focus on exercising the maritime forces, maritime air assets and maritime military health services which will see elements from all SA National Defence Force arms of service taking part.”
In his response to defenceWeb, the brigadier general points out “there is still no clear answer from the German Navy regarding participation in the exercise” but the Director: Force Preparation And Training of the SANDF is in “constant liaison” with the German attaché.
He did not respond to questions on force specific exercises such as Winter Solstice (SA Air Force) and Young Eagle (SA Army) or the previously staged national exercise Ndlovu.
The air force exercise has previously been held in the wider Northern Cape with air force platforms using Kimberley and Upington while the De Brug training area outside Bloemfontein hosted the landward forces for Exercise Young Eagle. The SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) at Lohathla in Northern Cape is the preferred venue for Exercise Ndlovu and has also hosted Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) exercises as part of preparation for the African Standby Force (ASF) and ACIRC (African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises).
In 2018 the SANDF carried out a number of exercises, including Atlasur XI between South African, Uruguayan and Brazilian naval forces in August/September, the Utilivu IV command post exercise for the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises in Uganda in August/September, the Ibsamar naval exercise between Brazil, India and South Africa in October and Exercise Ndlovu in October/November. Exercise Umodzi, a Southern African Development Community Standby Force command post exercise, was held in Malawi in October.
Small force preparation exercises have been held this year, including Phirima III in March at Potchefstroom. This was part of SANDF pre-deployment training ahead of South African soldiers rotating to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.