Elements from all Joint Operations tactical headquarters, including the national one in Thaba Tshwane, are this week hard at work on final preparation and fine tuning of the national force preparation exercise Ndlovu.
The team has taken up temporary residence at the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) Snake Valley base, east of Air Force Base (AFB) Zwartkop, where operational planning on six scenarios is underway for implementation on Monday 5 November when the command post exercise (CPX) proper gets underway.
Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, SANDF (SA National Defence Force) Joint Operations Division, SO1, Operational Communication, said there would in the region of 250 people from all services, divisions and units of the national defence force including Reserve Force elements involved for the exercise proper.
The scenarios for Ndlovu 2018 have come from threat analysis on a national basis over the past 12 months. This has brought to light six different scenarios that those who are part of the CPX will respond to.
They are crime prevention, with the SA Police Service an active participant; illegal trafficking from arms through narcotics, people, weapons and “whatever else can be trafficked” according to Paxton; disaster management; labour unrest; political instability and unrest with “spoilers” named as number six.
“As its name implies it can be widely interpreted and can range from large scale outbreaks of either animal or human diseases,” he said, giving the examples of Ebola and African swine fever, adding the name was an indicator it could “spoil the day” for those involved.
“Again, I stress, it must be remembered the exercise is a command post one and commanders will be faced with theoretical – not actual – threats,” Paxton said, adding the wildfires currently sweeping parts of the southern Cape would also be factored into scenario planning.
“This is because SAAF elements are involved and it will provide an actual, rather than a theoretical situation.
“Ndlovu 2018 can be compared to a 100 metre sprint in athletics. It’s ‘on your marks, get set’ and ‘no go’ – the starter’s gun is not fired. Everything we do will be centred on actual events but they will not happen.”
Reaction to the various scenarios will see, among others, planning for mass evacuation, search and rescue, deployment of soldiers in support of police action as well as combat readiness and mission planning as part of the SAAF Exercise Winter Solstice. This year the air force exercise is also a command post one.