Military Exercise Kicks Off

The Nelson Mandela Metropole, specifically Port Elizabeth became a bee hive of soldiers and military vehicles moving around the area. Exercise SHARED ACCORD 2013 is a joint- and multi-national Peace Support Operation (PSO) and Humanitarian Relief Exercise between South Africa and the United States of America. All forces have been planning this Exercise since early this year, and have been looking forward to this joint opportunity for many objectives. Since the 15th of July forces and support staff started to report and prepare by setting up offices, pitching tents and getting vehicles and equipment in place to be battle ready for the exercise to kick off on 24 July 2013. The Exercise will continue until 9 August 2013.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be the host for the Exercise, which is the second exercise of this kind and with the aim to provide collective training for the SANDF and US Armed Forces, building interoperability and mutual understanding between the two forces.

Most of the Exercise will be held in the greater part of the Eastern Cape and specifically in the coastal areas of the Nelson Mandela Metropole, East London as well as the inland areas of Grahamstown and Bulembo. Although the exercise will take place primarily in the Eastern Cape, the SANDF and US Armed Forces (US AF) will also exercise and train together at Bloemfontein (Airborne Forces), Simons’ Town (Maritime Reaction Squadron and US Marines) and Langebaan (Special Forces).

The 43 South African Brigade (43 SA Bde) will co-ordinate the Exercise, utilising various combat- and support units from both countries. The Headquarters is set up in the unit lines of Regiment Piet Retief in Port Elizabeth, in spite of the coastal winds, which made it very difficult for soldiers to pitch up tents in the area – a very interesting few days have been experienced.

During the Exercise, Army forces will train and execute live firing shooting exercises at Grahamstown, while the South African Airforce’s (SAAF) participation will be mostly virtual with some real-time helicopter support. The Naval Forces will include a Frigate, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, a Mine Counter Measure Vessel and Maritime Reaction Squadron elements in the East London harbour area. In the Bulembo area, locals will be supported with world-class real time Military Health support. Members of the public will receive medical- and dental check ups, eye- and TB testing as well as the de-worming and dipping of the community’s pets. The USA AF will provide 10 000 spectacles during this Exercise.

The SANDF is proud to be involved in Exercise SHARED ACCORD and the associated partnership with colleagues from the USA, the Provincial- and Local Government authorities, as well as relevant NGOs in this area.