SA readies to host AU military field training


December 13 - Military vehicles which formed part of a mock procession through Mthatha today in preparation for the real procession on Saturday, December 14.

JOHANNESBURG - The African Union will stage a field training exercise in the Northern Cape province of South Africa later this month to evaluate the state of readiness of the African Standby Force (ASF), and to exercise its Rapid Deployment Capability.

The field exercise, dubbed Amani Africa II (Swahili phrase meaning Peace in Africa), is set to take place from 19 October to 7 November, and will be used to find gaps and requirements for achieving full operational capability of the ASF by December 2015.

The field exercise involves the five regional economic communities, as structures of the African Union. They include the North African Regional Capability, East African Community, Economic Community of Central African States , Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS).

South Africa is the host nation for the exercise. The exercise was originally planned to be conducted in Lesotho, but due to the political instability and security situation in that country, was moved to South Africa.

The South African National Defence Force’s Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, said the exercise would be conducted at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in the Northern Cape.

According to Mgwebi, the exercise is based on a scenario created in a fictitious country named the Republic of Carana.

“The exercise setting provides for two scenarios in order to address the aim of the exercise,” Mgwebi said. “The first scenario is based on the report that the security situation in the Republic of Carana has deteriorated into an extent that the AU deemed it necessary to deploy its Rapid Deployment Capability to address the situation.

“The second scenario is based on the report that the security situation has changed and the situation is conducive for the deployment of a traditional and multi-dimensional peacekeeping force for peace support operations.

“This will give an AU an opportunity to evaluate the state of readiness of the African Standby Force to undertake a peacekeeping mission.”

Approximately 5,400 members from the military, police, and civilian components, representing four of the regional economic regions of the AU will participate in the exercise. The major troop contributing countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Other contributing countries involved in the exercise are Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

Detailed planning in preparation of the exercise has been done since March 2015 by officials from the AU, SADC and South Africa.

Mgwebi said personnel, vehicles and equipment from the various countries would start to arrive in South Africa between 12 and 17 October with the key ports of entry being Upington Airport, Nakop (border post with Namibia), Ramatlabama (border post with Botswana), Beit Bridge (border post with Zimbabwe), Lebombo (border post with Mozambique), Oshoek (border post with Swaziland) and Maseru Bridge (border post with Lesotho).

“Movements of all of the above will be done under escort by South African National Defence Force Military Police supported by the South African Police Services and the relevant traffic police of the different cities and towns that the convoys will be travelling through.”

Cities and towns affected include in the Northern Cape province, Upington, Olifantshoek, Kuruman, Kathu, Kimberley, Barkley-West, Postmasburg, in the North West province, affected urban centres include Mahikeng, Stella, Vryburg, Rustenburg, Koster, Lichtenburg, Biesiesvlei, Sannieshof, Delareyville, Potchefstroom, Ventersdorp and Coligny.

In Limpopo province, cities and towns affected are set to include Musina, Makhado and Polokwane, while in Gauteng Province, Pretoria and Brakpan, while in Mpumalanga, Komatipoort, Malelane, Nelspruit, Ngodwana, Machadodorp, Belfast, Middleburg, Emalahleni, Bronkhorstspruit, Lochiel, Chrissiesmeer, Ermelo, Bethal, Trichardt and Leandra will be affected.

In the Free State, Ladybrand, Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo, Bloemfontein and Petrusburg may be disrupted.

“The South African National Defence Force would like to warn members of the public about this exercise and the implications it may have on their normal or routine activities, and at the same time appeal to the public to be supportive of this noble exercise and its aims in pursuit of peace and stability in our continent.”