The South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) 10 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion Group based in Mafikeng is undergoing jungle warfare training at Entabeni ahead of the next RSABATT (RSA Battalion) rotation to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
SA Army exercise Matha and Phirima are serving as final preparation for the rotation around October/November and are conducted and overseen by 43 SA Brigade. Exercise Phirima took place at the Ben Viljoen Training Area in Phalaborwa and in June covered things like foot and vehicle patrols, ambush drills, engagement team ops, base protection, escort tasks, casualty evacuation and day and night navigation.
Exercise Matha moves to Entabeni in Limpopo. The area resembles the tropical rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with its canopy of dense trees and wet climatic conditions throughout the year.
43 SA Brigade Headquarters reported this week that South African forces “are undergoing strenuous jungle warfare training which focuses on special tactics, techniques and procedures that enable a soldier to survive and operate in jungle terrain. The members will be taught how to orientate themselves in the jungle, they will conduct navigational exercises, survival (life in the jungle); river crossing operations with battle equipment and furthermore they will conduct training on patrols in the jungle and live firing in the jungle. The soldier’s fitness and combat readiness combined with proper tactical appreciation will be put to test.”
Jungle warfare training will take up to four weeks before members are officially handed over to Joint Operations for Mission Readiness Training in De Brug, Bloemfontein before their departure to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The RSABATT Group tasked for DRC deployment comprises 10 SAI as its major component with support from other services and divisions in the form of medical and tactical intelligence. Another South African contribution is a quick reaction force (QRF) drawn from 1 Parachute Battalion.
21 South African Infantry Battalion is currently the South African component of the UN’s Force Intervention Brigade in the DRC, tasked to protect Congolese civilians from attacks and intimidation by the numerous rebel groups active in the central African country.