The American military currently in South Africa for Exercise Shared Accord brought with them no less than thirty-one thousand individual MREs (meals ready to eat) for all the more than 800 soldiers deployed for the exercise.
In addition to this mass of meals, there was also a large movement of vehicles, trailers and other military equipment into South Africa and then on to the Combat Training Centre (CTC) at Lohatla from US military bases and supply depots.
The initial entry of the US contingent, after a team from the 101st Airborne Division visited CTC at Lohathla in Northern Cape for on-site reconnaissance, was in the form of a pair of US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transports landing at Upington airport. Vehicles, individual soldiers’ military equipment and four thousand MREs were part of the cargo aboard the massive transporters, according to US Army Africa (USARAF) liaison officer, Major Jeremy Passut.
“Additional vehicles, trailers and associated vehicle equipment arrived via sealift at the port of Cape Town. Sealift also transported containers housing multiple integrated laser engagement systems (MILES), medical equipment and more MREs.”
Major Charles Reese, tasked as early entry command post officer for the exercise, said: “Logistic support for the exercise went as planed and is a credit to both the South African and US joint planning effort over the past year. We learned from each other every step of the way and will walk away from Exercise Shared Accord 2017 as better logisticians because of this”.
When the exercise ends on Wednesday, all involved will reverse the logistic process – without the MREs – back to their respective bases in and out of Africa.
The initial part of the exercise saw a break from military preparation on 18 July when US soldiers joined their South African counterparts to mark Nelson Mandela Day.
“As part of the day we came out of kind to engage and give back to the community,” Brigadier General William J Prendergast, US Army Africa deputy commanding general said ahead of the trip to nearby Postmasburg.
Soldiers from the US and South Africa collaborated with a local animal shelter, setting up an outdoor dog clinic where residents brought their dogs for free vaccinations, flea treatment and deworming medicine.
Mandela Day is observed each year on 18 July as an official United Nations day. The world body calls on citizens to volunteer 67 minutes of their time to commemorate Mandela’s 67 years of promoting social justice. His legacy includes working as a human rights lawyer, international peacemaker and being the first democratically elected present of South Africa.
SANDF senior staff officer, Colonel William Bucibe, said the day was one way the South African military was making a difference in the country’s communities.
“We are here as an organisation to give back to the community. We must do good wherever we are so we can make this a better world,” he said ahead of the Postmasburg community action.