South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma, has confirmed that South Africa will be part of the recently announced UN intervention brigade that will undertake offensive operations in the DRC.
According to an official Presidency statement, he has authorised until the end of April next year: “The employment of 1 267 SANDF personnel in the DRC for service in fulfilment of international obligations of South Africa towards the United Nations. The members were employed in the DRC for the period April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, to participate in the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC and will continue in this mission”.
The same statement also informed the country another 11 SANDF members would be based in the DRC until April 2014 to assist with capacity building of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) with a further 67 South African soldiers to be deployed as trainers for the FARDC.
Zuma also approved the deployment of 850 SANDF members to Darfur as part of the hybrid AU/UN operation in that country. This deployment is also effective until the end of April next year.
Zuma did not elaborate on whether the around 1 100 SANDF troops and support personnel currently in the DRC at Goma as part of MONUSCO (the UN operation in the Congo) would all join the intervention brigade but the numbers indicate there will be extra South Africans going to the central African country, probably at month-end.
South Africans will serve alongside soldiers from Malawi and Tanzania in the intervention brigade. No commander has yet been announced for the 3 069-strong brigade by the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission.
Each country will send an infantry battalion of 850 soldiers, amounting to 2 550 men. The remaining troops will come from an artillery company, a special forces company and a reconnaissance company. The brigade will operate under the command of a Tanzanian general, according to MONUSCO.
The intervention brigade, with a mandate to conduct “targeted offensive operations” against eastern DRC rebels, was approved by the UN Security Council on March 28. The landmark brigade has been given a mandate to conduct offensive operations, a first for UN peacekeepers.
defenceWeb earlier this week requested details of the brigade’s rules of engagement (ROE) but had not received any feedback from the Stabilisation Mission spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai at the time of publication.