South Africa has trained more than 7 000 DRC soldiers


In just over 10 years of military training assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the South African Army has improved the skill levels of more than 7 000 members of FARDC (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo).

The most recent round of training in March, under current Mission Thebe commander Colonel Arthur Sipho Nziweni, saw DRC instructors improve their skills in five different aspects of training: individual; the use and care of platoon weapons; artillery; air defence; and infantry training, the backbone of ground forces all over the world.

Training assistance between the two countries was provided for in a DRC/SA Defence Co-operation Agreement signed in June 2004 followed by a memorandum of understanding on practical assistance later in the same year. It was not until 2006 that South African officers and instructors were despatched to the DRC for the first round of training. The scope of the first deployment covered basic military training (BMT) as well as training in the specialist musterings of infantry, artillery and air defence alongside elements of service support. This was followed by a similar course four years later.
“All training to date has ended with an integrated exercise where soldiers have been able to put their newly acquired skills into practice,” said Colonel JL Tsalupondo, SSO Operations Headquarters at 46 SA Brigade.

The size of the SANDF contingent deployed on Mission Thebe is determined by the actual training that needs to be done and other factors on the ground, he said.
“Currently only headquarters staff is in the mission area ahead of the next round of training. Once the size of the next training intake is known decisions will be taken on how many South African instructors and in what specific musterings will be deployed,” he said.

Nziweni is the fourth mission commander for Thebe. The first was Colonel Piet Serenko followed by colonels Thulani Zungu and Sidney Mdluwa.