Soldiers put to test in the wild

2014-12-19 00:00

SANDF soldiers had their skills tested when they ­ventured into the wild during a 12-day training camp in the uMfolozi Game Reserve last month.

Anticipation turned to apprehension as the military convoy turned into the reserve and drove past herds of giraffe, buffalo and elephants.

Junior leaders from 84 Signal Unit and Natal Mounted Rifles were in uMfolozi Reserve to refine their skills in a real-life environment in an operation dubbed ­“Ukuthemba”, which means “trust”.

The members put their skills into practice in patrol formations, observation posts, listening posts and vehicle check points in the game reserve.

Corporal Owen Reddy from 84 Signal said: “Exercise Ukuthemba was very challenging as we were working in an environment shared with the animals on a daily basis.”

Captain Ndumiso ­Majozi said that ­experience from working in an environment filled with dangerous wildlife had equipped him for future battle operations.

“We learnt about the different kinds of wild animals. We also learnt how to communicate with them and to see when they were angry. Working with the game rangers was a good experience,” he said.

Staff Sergeant Johan Kruger said the training is an ­accurate indication of how soldiers will cope in certain situations on deployment.

“This level of real-life training got the members excited and pushed them to their limit. It became very clear why they had to follow procedures and drills, and why good teamwork is so vital,” he said.

Major Adrian van Schaik from Natal Mounted Rifles said: “Exercise Ukuthemba was a great challenge and after a long time the NMR was able to test its abilities — being able to give tangible service to the public, the animals and the country.”

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