New boss for SANDF Combat Group Bravo in Mozambique

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The South African contingent of SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique) has a new commander.

Earlier this month Lieutenant Colonel Thando Mpangeva took over command of the 4 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion group, known as Combat Group Bravo, from Colonel Desmond Antonio.

The Middelburg, Mpumalanga, soldiers join uniformed personnel from seven other SADC countries alongside Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (FADM) in a regional effort to end violence and terrorism in Cabo Delgado. The 4 SAI contingent replaced SA Army Infantry Formation colleagues from Zeerust, North West-based 2 SAI, in April.

Troop, materiel and support for the regional bloc’s peacekeeping mission come from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

SAMIM and FADM have, Major Mpho Mathebula reports, “achieved notable successes ranging from the recapturing of villages and the expulsion of terrorists to the confiscation of weapons and military supplies, resulting in internally displaced persons (IDPs) finally reclaiming their lives, demonstrating the unwavering commitment of the SAMIM Forces to aiding the Mozambican people in overcoming their security challenges”.

Outgoing SA contingent commander Antonio told the change of command parade collaboration, receptiveness to innovative ideas and acknowledgement of individual contributions all contributed to SAMIM achievements. “These factors foster an environment of harmony where joint efforts translate into effective outcomes”.

Combat Force Bravo arrived at Mozambique’s Pemba Airport by charter before taking up residence in the purpose-built South African base at Mihluri.

SAMIM is set to remain in the East African country until at least mid-July next year as per a decision taken by the “The Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the SADC Organ Troika, Plus SADC Troika, and Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and SAMIM Contributing Countries to the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Mozambique” summit in July. The high-level gathering noted an improved security situation and “gradual return” of IDPs “primarily due to reduced terrorist activities”.

Insurgents have in recent weeks launched a number of attacks, with mixed results. On 8 August, the Islamic State news agency Amaq claimed seven government soldiers were killed and ten injured during an insurgent attack on a military base in Catupa forest. It posted photos of several dead soldiers, and claimed 50 rifles seized along with mortars, rocket launchers and ammunition. The FADM said this operation resulted in the deaths of insurgent leaders Abu Kital and Ali Mahando.

Video following a more recent attack on 22 August showed a burning Marauder armoured personnel carrier, one of at least half a dozen supplied by Paramount in 2020. The vehicle was destroyed during an ambush in Macomia district, after the convoy in which it was travelling came under rocket and small arms fire. Mozambican, Rwandan and SAMIM soldiers were participating in Operation Golpe II to destroy insurgent bases in the coastal zone of Macomia.

At the same time the FADM confirmed the loss of the vehicle, it said it had killed senior insurgent commander Ibn Omar, also known as Bonomade Machude Omar, who took part in the ambush. Another two insurgents were apparently killed in the attack, which also claimed nine Mozambican soldiers, Zitamar reported. Ibn Omar was believed to be the primary leader of Islamic State Mozambique.

The chief of staff of the Mozambican military, General Joaquim Rivas Mangrasse, said the killing of Omar did not mean the end of the insurgency, stating that continued operations are needed to flush out the militants.