US Army in SA for peacekeeping exercise
US troops have begun to arrive in South Africa for a joint exercise with local soldiers.
Two US Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft have landed at Upington Airport‚ bringing in equipment and personnel for Exercise Shared Accord‚ which begins on Monday at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatla‚ Northern Cape.
Troops involved in 18-day exercise — a company from the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division and a company from 2 SA Infantry Battalion — will conduct a peacekeeping operation under a UN “chapter 7” mandate‚ in which belligerent forces are forced to disengage from armed conflict.
SANDF spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Piet Paxton said movement of troops began on July 3. “The US Army will exercise strategic lift by means of sea‚ air and road movement and the SANDF will exercise road movement support and replenishment‚” he said.
“This mobilisation will be done from various and multiple locations in South Africa to the Northern Cape with the aim to strengthen a bilateral relationship between US and South African forces that allows mutual benefit to improve understanding of partnered operations with a highly capable allied force.”
US “sealift” capabilities will be tested by docking a vessel in Cape Town and moving its cargo in a road convoy to Lohatla‚ escorted by troops under the orders of the Western Cape joint tactical headquarters.
DefenceWeb reported that one of the drills during the exercise would involve soldiers encountering and defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A company from 21 SA Infantry Battalion would make up the opposing force‚ it said.
Paxton said: “The exercise will also focus on inter-operability during military actions on various subjects. These will include shared interest in tactics‚ techniques and procedures‚ individual skills training‚ bush craft‚ counter-IED drills and night operations‚ as well as a UN peacekeeping scenario that incorporates elements of US/South Africa recent experience such as strong point defence‚ direct action and targeted offensive operations.”