LOHATLHA – Okay, so this is rather embarrassing… I’ve lived in Central South Africa for more than 15 years and yesterday was the first time ever for me to visit the South African Army Combat Training Centre at Lohathla, and what an experience it was.
Wait a minute. Let me start at the beginning. So, the newsroom received an invite to attend Exercise Seboka (and I found out today that members of parliament was not invited, well, not that it makes any difference to me). I am the journo responsible for SANDF stories and I started making travelling and sleeping arrangements.
The rest of the journalists (Gauteng and so forth) were all flown in from the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria. And by the way… I like driving more than flying. You see and experience the beautiful country in all its splendor.
We were all coming together to the firepower of the South African Army. Boy oh boy, do they have firepower. I’m sure for most of the male journo’s and photographers there, it was like being let loose in Reggies… you know what they say about boys and the size of their toys, well, you get the idea.
This year’s Exercise was led by 43 South African Brigade. The purpose was to test the SA Army’s operational readiness. To test the readiness you need to check the SA Army’s firepower. It is this firepower that is necessary to protect the South African borders and its people.
Chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant General Vusimuzi Masondo was the main functionary at the event and deliberated on developments, future training and utilization plans for the SA Army.
South Africa has been part of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces for several years already. South African soldiers have been participating in peace missions of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU) and UN. Their task was to bring stability and peace on the continent. Military exercises such as Exercise Seboka demonstrated the SANDF’s capability and South Africa’s commitment to support these missions to fulfil the regional and continental obligations to help and create peace and stability on the continent.
And the word “Seboka” means coming together. This is exactly what happened at Lohathla as all the forces of artillery and people were joined in an display of operational unity.
Army generals from all over the world, including Russia, Norway, Germany Uruguay, Canada and more, were all part of Exercise Seboka. I’m sure they now know the SA Army means business.
From the Gripens fighter planes, tanks to the Oryx helicopter, formed part of the exercise while live commentary took place. Everyone who attended could truly see that the army is ready if the unfortunate event of a war arises.
Ok, so why am I so excited? When the first missile hit the target, my adrenalin started pumping and between getting audio, taking photgraphs and filming the event, I asked myself why I have never joined the army. The thought that, just maybe, I could have been part of this spectacular exercise instead of the one reporting on it, fascinated me.
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