The SA Army’s parachute and air assault infantry are this weekend conducting a brigade-level force preparation exercise.
The annual exercise, codenamed Young Eagle, is testing the skills of the January intake of the Military Skills Development (MSD), says Chief Army Force Preparation Major General Vuzi Masondo.
Exercise commander Colonel Thinus van Staden says Young Eagle is conducted yearly to “ensure the availability of combat ready rapid intervention forces for the Chief of the SANDF.” The exercise also tests airborne doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures. “The scenario is generic and attempts to lead planners and executors to think and test airborne capabilities and possibilities.”
About 1450 soldiers, airmen and medics, of which about 400 are from this year`s MSD intake and 22 are Reserve Force, are taking part in the exercise.
The exercise is being conducted by 46 SA Brigade, one of two the SA Army muster. Assigned to them for the exercise are elements from
· 44 Parachute Regiment, including the regular 1 Parachute Battalion and reserve 3 Parachute Battalion as well as the regimental Pathfinder Platoon and 101 Air Supply Unit
· 4 Artillery Regiment (41 Battery, 120mm M5 mortars)
· 10 Air Defence Artillery Regiment (104 Battery, Starstreak very short-range surface-to-air missile)
· 2 Field Engineer Regiment
· 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment
· 17 Maintenance Unit (Ordnance Service Corps)
· 102 Field Workshop (Technical Services Corps)
· 13 Provost Company (Military Police)
Also attached are elements from the South African Air Force and from 7 Medical Battalion Group of the SA Military Health Service.
Mobilisation for the exercise commenced 2 November and was followed by unit and formation training from 10 to 17 November. 18 and 19 November were devoted to preparations for the open day, held yesterday, while the actual exercise, simulating an airborne intervention, started this morning and wraps up Monday night.
Van Staden says the troops involved will conduct parachute landings and air assaults from a staging area at Welkom in the northeast Free State on targets in the General de Wet Training Area at De Brug west of Bloemfontein.
Demobilisation starts 25 November.