A highlight, at least for 28 Squadron personnel, of Exercise Shared Accord was the presence and participation of a United States Air Force (USAF) C-130J-30 Super Hercules airlifter in tactical components.
The four-engined Lockheed Martin-built workhorse of the USAF 86th Airlift Wing staged from Ramstein air base in Germany and was used for trooping and equipment movement as well as being the “leading light” in a tactical air landing operation (TALO) at Richards Bay Airport on 20 July.
The TALO “pitted” friendly forces against an opposing one which had seemingly taken control of the independently operated northern KwaZulu-Natal airport.
US Armed Forces soldiers from the New York National Guard with elements of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) 44 Parachute Battalion and 1 Parachute Regiment were moved from Air Force Base (AFB) Bloemspruit for the TALO. A short and hard landing was the starting point for troops to exit along with equipment and Gecko all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and trailers. Objectives of beating back opposing forces, securing the airport perimeter and buildings and taking wounded opposition into custody were all successfully achieved.
The TALO was repeated with a second load of soldiers also emplaned at the sole SA Air Force (SAAF) base in the Free State, another pointer to thorough training ahead of the drills. Captain Jacques de Vries reports for the Joint Operations Division the visiting United States soldiers were “stood in good stead” by the scenario training as part of successive phases of the Shared Accord serialised force training programme.
It is likely the SAAF’s medium transport specialists would have taken more than professional pride in seeing the latest model Hercules in operation considering 28 Squadron has been operating earlier B models of the airlifter for just short of 60 years.
On 21 July, a 28 Squadron C-130BZ arrived at Richards Bay delivering cargo from AFB Waterkloof. The aircraft unloaded its cargo of rations and water and took off soon afterward for the return flight to Centurion.
SAAF sorties out of Richards Bay Airport in support of Shared Accord 2022 activities were carried out by Pretoria-based squadrons: 17 using two Agusta A109 LUHs from AFB Swartkop and 41, a Cessna 208 Caravan from AFB Waterkloof.
Another Shared Accord serial ahead of the exercise wrapping up today (Wednesday, 27 July) was an accident scene and chemical spill scenario staged at the port city’s Tuzi Gaza waterfront.
On 23 July this saw operational medics from the SAMHS and civilian paramedics responding to a mass casualty automobile accident scene at one site with another grouping of SAMHS chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) specialists attending to a tanker truck chemical spill, extricating casualties overwhelmed by fumes for decontamination and further treatment.
SA Army paratroopers and New York Army Guard soldiers in semi-permeable protective (chemical and biological) suits to protect from the effects of chemical weapons and hazardous chemicals secured the perimeter while healthcare professionals assisted the injured.
Accident scene scenario casualties were evacuated to nearby critical care points including a SAHMS field hospital at the uMhlathuze multi-sports complex, while those “affected” by the chemical spill were taken to a nearby mobile decontamination site for processing and transport to off-site critical care.
The goal of the simulated scenarios was for SANDF personnel and their American counterparts to work together in challenging situations and for local disaster and emergency response partners to be involved from a civilian perspective.
Primary health care outreach was a big part of Exercise Shared Accord. To this end on 22 July the SAMHS with the US Army visited Ezwenielisha Clinic in the Mkhanyakude District Municipality to provide primary health care assistance.
The multi-disciplinary team of nursing and medical officers, as well as specialists, spent a day at the clinic assisting patients. The specialists identified and managed conditions referring those requiring additional attention to institutions offering a higher level of care such as regional and tertiary hospitals.