South Africa’s commitment to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be boosted by the addition of a quick reaction force (QRF) that will join the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the strife-torn country next month.
A SA National Defence Force (SANDF) statement issued by Lieutenant Colonel Seitebatso Block of Joint Operations Headquarters has it the QRF will work closely with the FIB and the Tactical Intelligence Unit (TIU) currently in the DRC combatting illegal armed groups and protecting vulnerable civilians. She told defenceWeb units in the QRF cannot be named for “security reasons” and it does not replace any South African force or manpower currently in the central African country.
The 200-strong QRF will be under the command of Lieutenant Colonel MA Saki and is, according to the statement, “fully equipped to perform their mandate”.
In preparation for deployment, the QRF moved from 44 Parachute Regiment in Tempe to the SA Army mobilisation centre at De Brug this week to start hands-on mobilisation. This will see the QRF soldiers undergo individual and collective military skills pre-deployment validation done by UN Department of Peace Operations (UNDPO) personnel, the statement said. Command post and field training exercises comprise the final component of mobilisation preparation before the QRF is airlifted to Goma by a UN chartered passenger aircraft on an as yet undisclosed date next month (July).
Block confirmed to defenceWeb the QRF is an additional South African element going to MONUSCO, the world body’s largest peacekeeping mission. QRF soldiers will join, but not necessarily work with, the RSA Battalion and Tactical Intelligence Regiment unit already in-country.
A trooper attached to the Tactical Intelligence Regiment – 37-year-old Private Simanga Khuselo – died in a friendly fire incident last week.
Command post and field training exercise Phirima is currently underway in North West as part of preparation for South Africa’s next troop rotation to the DRC. The exercise started at the General De la Rey training area on 20 May and is scheduled to finish on 16 June.
Phirima’s aim is to prepare, sustain and ensure the combat readiness of the next SA Army force ahead of it rotating to the FIB.
When the North West component ends the battalion moves to Entabeni outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo for the jungle training portion of force preparation. When this is complete the rotation battalion is handed to Joint Operations Headquarters for mission readiness training at the De Brug mobilisation centre in Free State ahead of deployment – by air – to Goma.