Stirring words from the officer at the helm of the SA Army during a first light parade at the Combat Training Centre (CTC) set the tone for the upcoming deployment of the landward force’s Light Modern Brigade (LMB).
Members of the brigade will be operational until at least the end of April, as per a Presidential authorisation under Operation Prosper, supporting the police in fighting crime, including illegal mining. The “employment” of soldiers – the word regularly used by Cyril Ramaphosa when utilising SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements – was official from 28 October and is set to finish on 28 April next year. It will see the military as part of “an intensified anti-criminality operation against illegal mining across all provinces” the Presidency informed South Africa earlier this month.
The LMB, along with the three other modern brigades and assorted SA Army elements currently are the majority “occupiers” of the sprawling Northern Cape CTC, for the division level exercise Vuk’uhlome 2023.
Addressing the LMB at a first light parade this week, SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha, pulled no punches when stressing the importance of serving South Africa as a soldier.
“We are not by mistake called the last line of defence, the role of any state is to protect the citizens and its territorial sovereignty. South Africans are entitled to feel free and safe. As long as we are wearing this uniform, we must sacrifice and perform this constitutional patriotic duty,” is how the three-star was quoted by Major Kgaugelo Mmekwa of SA Army Corporate Communication.
Those on parade are “mobilising to deploy under Operation Prosper to reinforce the SA Police Service (SAPS) to curb the war against the economic sabotage of illegal mining by the so-called zama zamas” with all systems reportedly in place and the soldiers “physically and mentally ready to fight and triumph”.
“Deployment is a tough time of sacrifice and separation, but it represents strength, resilience and the power of human connection. Go Light Modern Brigade and make SA Army proud,” is the exhortation for soldiers yet again supporting National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola’s policemen and women.