US military forces have teamed up with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for Exercise Shared Accord in and around Port Elizabeth until August 7.
Shared Accord is an annual training exercise involving in-depth joint cohesion between U.S. and South African military forces during multiple training scenarios.
“This mission is designed to increase inter-operability and build friendships with the SANDF,” said Major Chuck Slagle, executive officer for 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
The exercise involves about 700 American military members from the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force and more than 3 000 SANDF members.
“Anybody can learn from anyone. We definitely learn from each other and can contribute our expertise to these exercises,” said South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) Captain François Van Huyssteen, a veterinarian with the Military Veterinary Institute.
Shared Accord 13 is a large-scale operation that will include multiple training missions to test the capabilities of both militaries. It will include an amphibious assault, combined live fire exercise, situational training exercises and a tactical airborne assault, which will lead into a Humanitarian Civic Action (HCA) event for the South African community.
“It’s great having the Americans here,” said Sergeant Major Andrew Stanley, watch officer for SA 13. “It shows the military capabilities and also the co-operation between the different forces.”
The HCA part of the exercise will see health services including dental, HIV screening and ophthalmology services provided Slagle said.
Another aspect to HCA will be mobile veterinary services including rabies vaccinations and tick treatments, Van Huyssteen said.
Through all exercises in SA 13 both militaries hope to improve skills while learning from one another.
“We’re both here to learn,” said Slagle. “The South Africans have a lot of experience and really we’re just sharing. We’re not training them on anything. We’re improving each other through this exercise.”