As the AU field training exercise Amani Africa 11 nears completion of its first week the exercise’s rapid deployment capability has gone “better than expected” with elements moving faster than planned.
SA Navy Captain Jaco Theunissen, deployed as a public affairs officer for the duration of the exercise, said about 3,000 troops were deployed infield at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) for the rapid deployment capability section of the exercise.
“This started on time following the concept of operations briefing with commanders and a subsequent appreciation by the force commander,” he said adding the next stage was to move into the mission transition to a peace support operation in the imaginary republic of Carana.
The Carana Scenario was developed specifically for the AU with input from peacekeeping and military training institutions in Africa and Europe. Carana is a fictitious country located on a fictitious island, Kisiwa, off the African east coast. The story of Carana and its people was originally developed in 2002/03 by UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations specialists as a foundation for scenario-based training exercises by African peacekeeping forces.
Host country South Africa has not been asked to supply any air assets for the exercise but has deployed an Oryx medium transport helicopter, an Agusta A109 light utility helicopters, a Cessna C-208 Caravan and a Casa 212. These assets serve as airborne command posts, transport and are also on hand if needed, for medical emergencies.
The actual airlift component of Amani Africa happened at Upington airport when IL-76 transport aircraft brought in equipment, materiel and troops from Angola and Botswana.
Another SANDF communications officer, Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, has also been deployed to Lohathla to assist with public affairs during the exercise. He told defenceWeb today: “Firing on enemy positions with SANDF 120mm mortars was successfully executed as part of the final battle the rapid deployment capability undertook to dislodge and destroy pockets of resistance.
“This action enabled ground forces to engage the enemy in a final thrust to dominate key areas of the fictitious rebel ridden Republic of Carana. The attack was undertaken jointly by South Africa and Uganda supported by elements from Benin and Niger. The battle group is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ramuloze from the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force.”
Next stage in the exercise is the transition to peace support followed by the peace support component. Theunissen said this would see police, civilian personnel and military support personnel, numbering about 1,900, become actively involved in the exercise.
The exercise is seen as final preparation for operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and its rapid deployment capability. It is scheduled to finish with demobilisation of participating troops from November 6 to 9 and departure of personnel, vehicles and equipment from South Africa until November 15.