Exercise Ukuthula to conclude next month


The South African Army’s training exercise Ukuthula 2018 remains underway at the SA Army Combat Training Centre in the Northern Cape, and will conclude next month.

General R J Coetzee, General Officer Commanding SA Army Training Formation said that Ukuthula is the culmination of junior leadership training courses in the South African Army. It provides practical experience for NCOs, subunit commanders and others and gives junior leaders the opportunity to test their skills in a real exercise using prime mission equipment.

The exercise is based around the scenario of a fictional island off the coast of Somalia where peacekeeping forces are tasked to intervene in a conflict and engage with an enemy.

Various scenarios and engagements are being carried out. On 4 October, ‘stabilising forces’ carried out a group attack on ‘destabilisers’ in the area of operations at the Combat Training Centre at Lohatla. Ground forces received South African Air Force close air support with Hawk Mk 120 aircraft while 4 Artillery Regiment provided artillery fire support with the G5 howitzer.

The ground attack was carried out by an integrated force consisting of 1 SA Infantry Battalion and an Armoured Car troop. Medical evacuations and casevac for simulated injured and deceased members were performed by an Air Medical Evacuation Team (AMET), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said.

On 5 October, task groups advanced on their objectives, conducting quick attacks and an assault bridge crossing at the Ga-Mogara river. A simulated air casualty evacuation was performed by the Air Medical Evacuation Team (AMET) supported by an Oryx helicopter provided by the SA Air Force.

On 6 October, task groups executed an assault bridge crossing at the Ga-Mogara river and fended off a ‘destabilising force’ attack.

Sunday 7 October was a day of reorganisation and replenishment in preparation for an advance to the South involving dozens of armoured vehicles, including Ratels. The following two days saw both combat teams continue with raids on destabilising force remnants and the mopping up the area of operations. Further operations are focussed on a simulated peace keeping operation, the SA Army said.

Ukuthula was officially declared open on 29 September and is set to conclude on 16 November. Coetzee said that in the past, the South African Army has conducted a number of small exercises to test its learners but due to austerity measures (a lot of the training budget went to the Armed Forces Day capability demonstration in February this year) it is holding one large exercise for everyone.

In addition to South African personnel taking part in the exercise, there are learners from China, South Korea, Pakistan and African countries participating.