Exercise Shared Accord declared a success


“A great exercise where personal and professional relationships were formed to help us to better conduct operations in the future,” was the summing up of the most senior American officer at Exercise Shared Accord.

Speaking at the conclusion of the bilateral training exercise in the Eastern Cape, Brigadier General Peter Corey, Deputy Commander of US Army Africa, added: “We learnt a lot from each other so it was a productive exercise for the US Armed Forces who participated”.

Making the exercise even more successful was that all goals set prior to its commencement were met.
“We had a number of major training objectives and we achieved all of them. Additionally, we learnt new techniques for inter-operability between ourselves and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).”

This was echoed was Major General Ephraim Phako, SANDF deputy chief of Joint Operations.
“We await the final report on Shared Accord with anticipation. This is in the light of the lessons learnt which will enhance our ability to effectively respond to calls for humanitarian relief and human distress, both within South Africa and in the broader continental context.”

A US Army Africa statement indicated the scope of this year’s iteration of Shared Accord was “huge” with operations throughout Eastern Cape and beyond.

They included tactical movement, a tactical air landing operation, a beach landing, live fire exercises and the provision of primary health and veterinary care. All told over 4 000 soldiers took part in Shared Accord this time around.

In his closing remarks Phako paid tribute to the combined efforts of all involved in the planning and execution of Shared Accord.
“I am well aware of the enormous amount of planning and forethought required for an operation of this magnitude and the success of all aspects is highly commendable. It bears testimony not only to the rigour of our military and its men and women but also to the fruit borne through co-operative effort and energy.
“The exercise slogan – a shared commitment to serve – was definitely achieved,” he said.

More than 3 000 SANDF troops took part in the exercise, between late July and early August, with over 700 American soldiers of different musterings alongside them.

The stated goal of Shared Accord was to build lasting relationships and increase the professional capacity of armed forces from both countries. This was assisted by the visit of Africom commander General David Rodriguez, who became the first Africom commander to visit South Africa.

Although the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is opposed to Africom establishing a major presence on the continent, South Africa does send military personnel for training in the United States and is a recipient of US military aid.

In its International Relations policy document adopted at the Mangaung conference last year, the ANC said it “reaffirms its position that African states should be resolute against Africom presence in the guise of fighting terrorism and need to mount campaigns against US military presence on the continent … The ANC recognises that the Africom programme is more than just the building of American bases on the African continent; it includes the involvement of US and NATO military on African soil, either through the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror or through ‘promotion of democratization”.

Nevertheless, such views do not prevent exercises like Shared Accord and US military aid. An official from Africom told defenceWeb most of the $750 000 per year of the US government’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant money is used to support the SA Air Force’s nine Hercules aircraft, and includes buying spares and providing aircrew training. Aircrew use simulators in the United States to practice emergency procedures that would be too risky with real aircraft.

In 2010 and 2011 South Africa was scheduled to receive $800 000 in Foreign Military Financing, according to the US Department of State. Foreign Military Financing to South Africa topped out at around $1 million but now stands at around $750 000 per annum, according to the Africom official.