NAVAF commander in South Africa

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Admiral Bruce W Clingan, Commander US Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVAF), is in South Africa for a three-day visit.

He is scheduled to meet SA Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, at the Navy Office in Pretoria and will also meet Flag Officer Fleet (FOF) Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz, who is based at fleet headquarters in Simon’s town.

The agenda for both meetings will be structured around maritime security issues, including counter-piracy operations, in the southern African region.

While in Simon’s town Clingan will tour one of the Navy’s Valour Class frigates and a Heroine Class submarine.

Ahead of his visit, which ends tomorrow, Clingan said he was looking forward to “a professional exchange”.
“It will be an honour to be in South Africa and I look forward to engaging with such an exceptional navy,” he is reported as saying by US Africom.

His visit comes just on three months after Africom Commander, General David Rodriguez, became the first head of the United States Africa Command to visit South Africa. This was during the joint US/South Africa Exercise Shared Accord in the Eastern Cape.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is opposed to Africom establishing a major presence on the continent but South Africa does send military personnel for training in the United States and is a recipient of US military aid.

In its International Relations policy document adopted at the Mangaung conference last year, the ANC said it “reaffirms its position that African states should be resolute against Africom presence in the guise of fighting terrorism and need to mount campaigns against US military presence on the continent … The ANC recognises that the Africom programme is more than just the building of American bases on the African continent; it includes the involvement of US and NATO military on African soil, either through the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror or through ‘promotion of democratisation'”.

Nevertheless, such views do not stop the flow of military aid or stop exercises like Shared Accord. An official from Africom told defenceWeb most of the $750 000 per year of the US government’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant money is used to support the SA Air Force’s nine C-130 Hercules aircraft, and includes buying spares and providing aircrew training. Aircrew use simulators in the United States to practice emergency procedures that would be too risky with real aircraft.

In 2010 and 2011 South Africa was scheduled to receive $800 000 in Foreign Military Financing, according to the US Department of State. Foreign Military Financing to South Africa topped out at around $1 million but now stands at around $750 000 per annum, according to the Africom official.