Exercise Young Eagle underway at Lohathla


Force preparation levels in the SA Army are currently under the microscope at the Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Northern Cape with at least 11 units taking part in the 2015 iteration of Exercise Young Eagle.

The exercise proper started earlier this week with 44 Parachute Regiment, 9 SA Infantry Battalion, 1 Special Services Battalion, 2 Field Engineer Regiment, 10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 18 Light Artillery Regiment, 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment, 1 Signal Regiment, 102 Field Workshop, 17 Maintenance Unit and elements from the SA Special Infantry Capability based at Potchefstroom.

According to South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Corporate Communications Directorate the exercise is an “exclusive” SA Army one to test “the combined might of the SA Army and SA Air Force in a full-scale air and land assault”.

Elements from other arms of service are peripherally involved in Young Eagle using the De Brug training area outside Bloemfontein.

Young Eagle has in recent times been a specialist air assault exercise with 6 SA Infantry Battalion, based at Grahamstown, the lead unit. It has regularly been staged at De Brug as a precursor to the SA Army’s major force preparation exercise – Seboka – at CTC.

Young Eagle will finish next Thursday with a demonstration of a mechanised attack supported by airborne elements to showcase the military skills fine-tuning that formed the backbone of the exercise.

This year there will be no Seboka, with the SANDF’s major training area handed to the African Union (AU) for its African Standby Force (ASF) preparation exercise Amani Africa II. Indications from Addis Ababa are that in the region of 5,000 troops will descend on Lohathla for the exercise which starts on October 19 and ends on November 7.

The 2014 iteration of Seboka was modelled on the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force, an AU initiative to provide the continent with an interim rapid reaction force until such time as the ASF is fully operational.