Namibia has finished training a full battalion of marines and formally commissioned its Marine Corps, as well as a new training facility.
The battalion was commissioned at the Wilbard Tashiya Nakada Military Base (old Rooikop Military Base) near Walvis Bay by Commander-in-Chief of the Namibian Defence Force, President Hage Geingob on 22 July along with a new naval training school. The President said the Namibian Defence Force continues to grow and become more professionalised.
The ceremony included officials from Brazil, which helped set up the marine corps, with Namibian soldiers being trained in Brazil. So far around 700 marines have been trained. A typical battalion comprises around 1 000 personnel. The naval training school includes an Olympic size indoor swimming pool.
From 2005, more than 400 marines were trained in Brazil, according to BBC Brazil, which noted that training Namibian marines followed a similar path to training Brazilian forces with almost the same curriculum. Several dozen Brazilian personnel were deployed to Namibia to assist with training in country, arriving in 2009.
During the commissioning ceremony last month, Brazilian Marine Corps Admiral Fernando Antonio de Siqueira Ribeiro said Namibia and Brazil had enjoyed good relations since it signed a military cooperation agreement in 1994.
“With a coastline stretching 1,570 kilometres, there is no question that Namibia’s Navy has an important role to play both in peace times and in times of conflict,” Geingob said. “During peacetime the Navy has the role of augmenting civil offshore patrol forces by providing the means and expertise to execute enforcement action effectively… Given the multidimensional role of the Navy, the establishment of the Marine Corps and Naval Training School is a crucial aspect of its ever increasing capabilities.
“Piracy and other maritime crimes continue to threaten Africa’s seas, thus negatively affecting the continent’s ability to competitively trade with the rest of the world. National and regional instabilities that have allowed this scourge to fester and spread are a concern to Namibia. It is our intention to continue to participate in exercises with the navies of other littoral states of the South Atlantic, in the promotion of Maritime Security in the greater Atlantic Ocean region. Towards this end, I am informed that as part of its ongoing training and preparation, our navy regularly participates in joint exercises with fellow SADC navies under the auspices of its Standing Maritime Committee as part of its ongoing training and force preparation.”
Namibia recently received a batch of small arms from Russia to equip its Marine Corps as part of contracts signed a couple of years ago. The small arms delivered included Kalashnikov AK-103 7.62×39 mm and AK-105 5.45×39 mm assault rifles, PP-19-01 Vityaz 9×19 mm sub-machineguns, SVD-S (based on the Dragunov) sniper rifles, PKP Pecheneg 7.62×54 mm and RPK-74M 7.62×39 mm machineguns, Kord 12.7×108 mm heavy machineguns, AGS-30 30 mm automatic grenade launchers and GP-34 40 mm under-barrel grenade launchers.
In August 2014, Director General of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaykin, said that Namibia had ordered small arms and Kornet-E missile systems from Russia. The 9M133 Kornet-E (AT-14 Spriggan) anti-tank missile order was confirmed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI’s) arms transfer database, which stated that Namibia in 2014 ordered an unspecified number of 9M133 Kornet-E missiles.
Namibia has been expanding its military recently, acquiring new hardware and training. For example, South Africa’s Chute Systems (a Private Military Training Contractor) has been training Namibian Paratroopers and special forces operators. Part of this process saw the company establish a Parachute Training Ground School, based on the South African model which can handle 64 Trainee Paratroopers per course, as well a Special Forces Diving School in Namibia. Chute Systems has been training Namibian special forces and Paratroopers since 2009. Chute System’s mandate is to ultimately train NDF specialists to become Instructors, thus making outside assisted training obsolete.
Douw Raimondo, owner of Chute Systems, told defenceWeb that his company started training Namibian soldiers from scratch, and established a special forces and airborne capability. Training is ongoing, with excellent results which were reflected in numerous SADC Military Exercises, of which the last two were conducted in Saldana Bay and more recently in Luanda. Although Chute Systems was not involved in training Namibian marines, the company has done diving and boat work with the special forces,andis in advanced stage of getting the SF’s Seaborne capability established.
Namibia is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new infrastructure for its military, including new military bases and training facilities as well as a new military hospital.