Exercise Shared Accord is in full swing with South African troops and their counterparts from at least 14 different US Armed Forces units learning from each other in Eastern Cape.
The exercise is one outcome of bilateral discussions between the United States and South Africa going back to 2009 and approved a year later.
The senior US officer in Shared Accord, Brigadier General Peter L Corey, said he and the entire American contingent were in South Africa to learn how South African soldiers conduct their day-to-day, airborne and peacekeeping operations.
“In turn we are showing them how we conduct the same operations,” said the Deputy Commander of the US Army in Africa, adding there would be an improvement in skills as a result of training in a different environment.
The multilateral training exercise includes a live fire operation, airborne and dismounted infantry tactics, a maritime amphibious assaults, peacekeeping operations and disaster response. A humanitarian civic assistance project is also part of the exercise and will see primary medical, veterinary and optometry assistance to the Eastern Cape rural population.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division make up the bulk of US forces involved in the exercise. They are joined by service members with 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Special Forces Group, 2nd Marine Division, 4th Marine Division, District of Columbia Army National Guard, Rhode Island Air National Guard, New York Army National Guard, 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Medical Command and 1172nd Movement Control Team.
The ultimate goal of Shared Accord is to build lasting relationships and increase the professional capacity of armed forces from both countries.
Major General Ephraim Phako, Deputy Chief of SA National Defence Force Joint Operations, summed the exercise up when he said: “It is my wish that Exercise Shared Accord will set a sterling example for future co-operation and peace support missions between the armed forces of our two countries”.
The exercise ends on August 5.