SA Army peace support and intervention exercises underway


The twin strictures of the coronavirus pandemic and lack of funds have not deterred the landward service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) from a major commitment, that of ensuring properly trained troops are ready for deployment when called on by Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa.

With this attitude, exercises Amabutho (Zulu for armies) and Ukuthala (Zulu for to carry) are currently underway after starting late in September. That was when the Headquarters 43 SA Brigade kicked off Amabutho, a brigade planning exercise, ahead of the field training component Ukuthala at the Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape. The overall force preparation and training elements of both exercises ends on 27 November.

The exercises are pitched at what the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communications calls “reduced brigade level” and take Junior Command Staff Duties (JCSD) candidates “through their paces operating as commanders in a complex African battlespace environment as part of force preparation”.

One of the trade-offs forced onto the exercise originators was execution of various drills, movements and scenarios without integrated sub, unit commanders and operational duties students, in order to keep in check any possible spread of coronavirus.

This sees only those on the JCSD course, alongside SA Army combat and support elements, part of the practical side of the exercises under the flag of HQ 43 SA Brigade.

In addition to the “home” unit CTC, other units taking part in Ukuthala at Lohathla are 10 Air Defence Artillery Regiment, 1 SA Infantry Battalion, 1 Special Service Battalion, 1 SA Tank Regiment, 1 Signal Regiment, 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment, 1010 Field Workshop, 16 Maintenance Unit, 8 Medical Unit and a rapid deployment operations team.

All told, both exercises will see over 300 SANDF personnel active in force preparation and training.

The exercises take their form from the African Union (AU) scenarios 5 (peace support operations) and 6 (intervention operations). This sees participants exposed to and hands-on with the continental body’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), its doctrine and as well as inter-operability in joint operations.