A contingent of 20 US marines arrives in Simon’s town on Saturday to begin preparation in earnest for next week’s joint Exercise Shared Accord.
When in full swing in Eastern Cape as well as the sea off the province it is envisaged some 5 000 troops will be active in the joint SA National Defence Force (SANDF)/United States Armed Forces (USAF) exercise. The exercise proper is set to start on July 24 and end on August 5.
The American marines will be using their time at the SA Navy fleet headquarters to practice drills and exchange amphibious doctrine with the South African equivalent, the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS). This will also include a beach landing at Long Beach next Monday. With three days of joint intensive training and rehearsals completed the Marines and their South African counterparts will board SAS Spioenkop for transit to Port Elizabeth.
On land other SANDF elements, including 43 SA Brigade and a large contingent of SA Military Health Services (SAMHS), are in the process of setting up and deploying to various sites in and around Port Elizabeth in preparation for Shared Accord.
“At the heart of this exercise is building inter-operability and mutual understanding,” SANDF spokesman for the exercise, Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, said.
43 South African Brigade will co-ordinate the exercise utilising various combat and support units from the SA Army. The SA Air Force’s participation will be mostly virtual with some real-time helicopter support. SA Navy components will be involved in exercises at sea along the southern coast before entering the East London harbour. Naval forces will include a frigate, an offshore patrol vessel, a mine counter measure vessel and MRS elements.
SAMHS support during Shared Accord will entail real-time military health support to own forces deployed at sea and on land. The medical contingent will consist of multi-disciplinary professionals who will join US Forces for the duration of the exercise. This will also be a test of the operational capability of both SAMHS and US Forces in terms of real time military health support.