Sappers also part of Operation Prosper


The increasing use of military assets, particularly people, on active duty as ordered by government will soon see Sappers providing support to police in Free State.

The employment/deployment of 25 000 military personnel in the wake of widespread violent civil unrest in July was reduced to 10 000 by the then Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, just before she was herself redeployed to Parliament as National Assembly Speaker.

Infantry soldiers from both regular and Reserve Force regiments and units were the largest contributors to last month’s Presidential call for boots on the ground to assist police.

At the same time the SA Army has other ongoing commitments needing staffing and mission ready training in anticipation of active duty calls.

Operation Mistral sees a battalion in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the resident UN mission’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). This has been added to with the landward force of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) now one of four countries committed to a quick reaction force (QRF) to work in conjunction with the FIB, the only UN peacekeeping mission component with an offensive mandate.

The other ongoing largely SA Army commitment is the national border protection tasking Operation Corona. This has 15 companies also mostly infantry and drawn from regular and Reserve Force units, patrolling land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In what could be either better utilisation of available personnel or as shortage of properly trained soldiers, Sappers from the SA Army Engineer Formation’s School of Engineers are presently being shown the ropes for Operation Prospers’ major tasking of providing perimeter security for police during search and cordon and other civil unrest and crime prevention duties. The mission ready training is done by Free State Joint Tactical Headquarters.

The Sappers, according to the SANDF, will support police in Free State working from the Kroonstad School of Engineers.