Preparations started last year and are now getting into high gear.The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is using its R53 million conflict simulation system to do contingency planning for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
It is also conducting a series of training exercises nationwide to test ICT interoperability with other agencies in the run-up to the global event.
“Contingency planning is fairly cardinal to what we do,” says SANDF chief director of operations, rear admiral Phillip Schoultz.
Although the SANDF is not the lead agency for security at the event – that is the police – the military has played a key support role in previous world events such as the rugby and cricket World Cups and various world summits.
“As far as the World Cup is concerned, although it is only [in 2010] we already commenced preparations last year and are conducting ongoing exercises to test the command-and-control (C2).” C2 is military jargon for business process management and business intelligence.
Schoultz was speaking at a recent media briefing on the activities of the SANDF`s Joint Operations Division. The unit is responsible for the conduct of all military deployments, including United Nations missions in Nepal, Sudan, Burundi and the Congo.
“We had an exercise in March, Exercise Green Point, in Cape Town, and we will be repeating these in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, and then, in November, in Gauteng, the North West and Limpopo, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal early next year.
“The World Cup, from a defence point-of-view, has already commenced because 2010 is not 2010, because it happens in 2010, it started a year ago and there is a sequence of events that is taking place in the build-up for that, so we constantly have to practise and exercise,” Schoultz adds.
Agencies involved in securing the event, as well as next June`s Confederations Cup, other than the police and the military, are the National Intelligence Agency, the SA Revenue Service, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Health “and a number of others”.
Schoultz stresses that ICT interoperability will be key to these agencies working together seamlessly as a team. “Very importantly, if you cannot communicate, you cannot operate. So we are responsible to provide operational C2 systems and those systems can either be at headquarters or deployed as a backbone communications system that we need to conduct operations.
“When you look at something like 2010, we need to communicate with disaster management (an agency in the Department of Provincial and Local Government), the police, etcetera. You can imagine the chaos if everyone was speaking on cellphones and different radio systems… so you can see how C2 underpins the entire operational effort.”