The Namibia Defence Force (NDF) is hosting a multinational special forces exercise involving around 600 personnel from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
Military personnel from Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho began arriving in Namibia earlier this month in anticipation of exercise Welwitchia, to be conducted around Walvis Bay.
Preliminary training will take place from September 9 to 29 before the main portion of the exercise is held between September 30 and October 7. The exercise will involve practicing the tactics, techniques and procedures of desert warfare and improving the readiness and interoperability of SADC special forces, the NDF said. It will also improve command and control and give special forces the chance to coordinate anti-piracy operations.
The Chief of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), Lieutenant-General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, officially opened the exercise at Rooikop military base on Sunday, reports the Namibian Sun. He said this was the first time the multinational exercise was being held in desert conditions. The exercise will be directed by Namibia’s special forces commander, colonel Martin Shikomba.
Ndaitwah said the SADC troops fighting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo is “a clear sign that the region has a mission of bringing and maintaining peace and stability on the continent. This is a mission we cannot postpone if we are able to execute it,” he said.
South African Army Colonel Renier Coetzee earlier this year said that special forces teams are able to provide the SADC Standby Force with unique capabilities, as they utilise “unconventional actions to resolve strategic problems.” Special forces offer a wide variety of capabilities such as reconnaissance, intelligence, offensive action, the protection of vital and strategic interests, the combating of terrorism, combat search and rescue and military capacity development.
“SADC special forces have proven themselves combat ready for deployment during the past four years,” Coetzee said, referring to annual exercises, the most recent of which was held in Lesotho last year. “SADC special forces are ready to take part in the SADC Standby Brigade.”
Each SADC member country has a special forces field of expertise awarded to it. “We have lots of experience we can offer to the SADC,” Coetzee said, as the special forces have done maritime operations, counter-insurgency training and next year will conduct anti-piracy training.