SANDF, Royal Netherlands Army train at Lohatlha


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Royal Netherlands Army are currently conducting a bi-national training exercise at Combat Training Centre (CTC) at Lohatlha.

Dubbed exercise Serolane, the joint multinational exercise kicked off June 4 and will wind up June 22. “The focus of this joint-training exercise will be mainly on infantry training and the testing of medical capabilities in the field as this will be the first exercise of its kind between South Africa and Netherlands, the SA Army says in a statement.
“The main role players will be the airborne force of 1 Parachute Battalion, Oryx helicopters of the South African Air Force, a South African Medical Task Group and a company of the Dutch 11th Infantry Battalion, from the 11th Air Mobile Brigade (Air Assault), and elements of 421 Medical Field Hospital Company,” Major Emoret Serfontein added.
“Various aspects on the exercise comprising the exchange of information and experience at all levels, out-of-area training for logistical units and training of the field medical capability will be shared amongst the participants. Infantry training will entail mostly the execution of air mobile operations, offensive operations and command-and-control training at battalion level.”

This last Saturday, participants held a traditional rock-piling ceremony during which the symbolic handing over of the training area between the CTC and the training exercise commander took place. During the ceremony, all soldiers undertook to look after equipment, fellow soldiers and the environment. Commandant of the CTC, Brigadier General Nontobeko Mpaxa, presided.
“Bi-national exercises are planned and executed to improve the level of training. The purpose is to be exposed to international standards of training and to exercise military interoperability between South Africa and the Netherlands.”

Lohatlha often hosts such exercises, two of the larger of recent Exercise Ndlovu late last year and the Southern African Development Community’s standby brigade Exercise, Golfinho, in 2009.

On a smaller scale, about 180 British soldiers deployed at the CTC IN January 2009 for Exercise Kalahari Thorn. The troops, from the Household Cavalry were taking part in a Company Group (reinforced squadron) exercise.

The manoeuvres took place under a bilateral agreement between SA and Britain reaffirmed in February 2007. That year`s edition, for which the UK recompensed SA for support rendered, followed a similar exercise held in 2008.

Singapore has also made use of this facility, most recently last year.