The South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Military Skills Competition 2023 got off to a sunny start in Potchefstroom on 11 September, as the Chief SA Army Force Preparation, Major General Patrick Dube, welcomed South African and international teams.
The parade ground at 4 Artillery Regiment was set out with infantry, artillery and armour prime mission equipment as the attending nations’ flags fluttered in the breeze, reports Jacques de Vries from the Directorate SA Army Reserve.
Dube saluted participants at what is by reckoning the 16th edition of the competition since 2006, and emphasised the value derived from the event for both South African soldiers and their international counterparts. This, he said, was “something the SA National Defence Force embraces more than anything… that being the building of strong ties between each other as soldiers, whether from at home or abroad. This year, we extend our hospitality to teams from Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Tanzania, and the United States of America. You are here at the premiere event for promoting fighting fitness and combat readiness in the SA National Defence Force’s Regulars and Reserves.”
The South African Army Armour Formation was tasked with the responsibility of making the competition a reality. Much of what is made possible at the 4 Artillery Regiment opening parade and for the contest’s duration is due to the hard work and dedication of Armour Formation’s Army Reserve unit based in Potchefstroom – Molapo Armoured Regiment. Army Support Base Potchefstroom plays a big role in providing logistical support, and other assistance is rendered by the SA National Defence Force’s Defence Reserves Division, its Defence Provincial Liaison Office North West, and the Reserve Force Council.
At its core, Chief Army Force Preparation emphasised that Military Skills Competition “strives to ensure that all members of the armed forces are provided with an opportunity for a strengthened fundamental, solid understanding of basic soldiering skills. These characteristics are vital for survival when deployed on service in times of war and peace – relevant now more than ever when considering where the armed forces are being deployed in military operations other than war.”
Dube said the skills participants practice during the competition will be taken back to their units and from there to the Army’s divisional level combat readiness exercise Vuk’uhlome in November. “In a similar way, this competition is not only a proving ground but also a space to learn from our African continental and international partners, and to teach them a thing or two!”
The competition runs from 10 to 17 September.