The single largest joint South African/United States military exercise on the South African calendar starts on Wednesday, with a parade in Port Elizabeth, after which it’s down to the serious business of training for peace support and humanitarian work.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief: Joint Operations Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi will take the salute at Regiment Piet Retief headquarters in Humewood to signal the start of this year’s iteration of the combined exercise, which ends on August 5.
Around 5 000 military personnel, mainly from the SANDF’s 43 SA Brigade, the SA Navy and SA Military Health Services (SAMHS), will “build inter-operability and mutual understanding” during the eight day exercise, according to Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, SANDF spokesman for the exercise.
Included in the schedule of tasks for the exercise are a convoy ambush in the Alicedale area, a tactical air landed operation at East London Airport, an air assault on Bulembo Airport near Bisho and a beach landing by marines on East London’s Orient Beach.
In addition to these tasks, essential in peace support operations, US Armed Forces military medical personnel and their South African counterparts will test real-time military health support to land deployed own forces.
The humanitarian side of Shared Accord will see 10 000 pairs of spectacles dispensed following optometry evaluations by American military health professionals.
In preparation for the exercise, a small contingent of US Marines have been in Simon’s Town practising drills and sharing amphibious doctrine with the Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS). They will board SAS Spioenkop for transit to Port Elizabeth to take part in the exercise proper and the beach landing will be their major tasking for Shared Accord. It is scheduled to take place sometime between 02h00 and 04h00 on Monday, July 29.