Friday week sees the official start of the 2017 Exercise Oxide, a joint French-South African naval exercise.
Oxide this year will take place from November 24 to December 9 on and around the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, a French territory. The lead force for the exercise is the French Armées de la Zone Sud de l’Océan Indien (FAZSOI), based on the island.The last Oxide was held off Richards Bay on South Africa’s east coast in 2015.
The South African deployment for Oxide this comprises the Valour Class frigate SAS Amatola (F145), a Super Lynx maritime helicopter embarked on it as well as an AFB Waterkloof 28 Squadron C-130 and a C-47TP from35 Squadron, based at AFB Ysterplaat. Other SA National Defence Force (SANDF) assets taking part in the exercise are an airborne platoon of 36 combat ready parachutists and a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) medical team embedded on the frigate.
The exercise is scenario-based and this year’s theme, identified by the lead nation is “fight against narcotics”.
This will see inter-operability exercised as well as plans developed between the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town and the Maritime Rescue Sub-Regional Centre (MRSC) on La Reunion. Maintenance, promotion and building on operational as well as tactical co-operation between both forces are also high on the exercise agenda.
Joint force preparation is another agenda item that will be thoroughly examined during Exercise Oxide in terms of furthering the working relationship between participating forces.
The South African component is under the command of exercise director, Brigadier General Gustav Lategan, with Captain (SAN) Handsome Matsane the joint task force commander.