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sandf thumb medium90 89BL Premium reports that when SA deploys its full contingent of soldiers as part of a Southern African regional force (SamiDRC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it does so with its military equipment at its lowest ebb yet in one of the most volatile warzones of Africa.

Apart from having almost no serviceable helicopters and transport aircraft available to provide air cover and evacuation support, it has to depend on the DRC’s own limited air support when it takes on rebel groups armed to the teeth in the east of the country. A week ago the South Africans who are still part of the UN peacekeeping and force intervention brigade had a taste of what is to come when ground forces of the M23 rebels fired at an Oryx helicopter from the SA Air Force. The helicopter was hit at least 43 times by suspected AK-47 and PK machine gun fire, which ripped through the helicopter and its main rotors. One shot slammed into the joystick and the finger of the commander of the Oryx, Maj Jannie Augustyn. Another shot from below peppered his leg with shrapnel. A medical orderly in the back, who was taking care of a patient whom the crew had just evacuated, was hit by a bullet that came through the floor and hit him under his body armour. In “normal” operational circumstances the Oryx should have had the protection of one of the Rooivalk attack helicopters deployed by the air force to the DRC a few years ago. Except that the Rooivalks have not flown in many months due to technical issues and the expiry of the crew’s currency certification. Military analysts described the deployment of soldiers in the DRC without air support as “idiotic”. One former general claimed that a battalion of 5,000 was the minimum requirement for a force to have an impact. They should be well equipped with mortars and heavy machine guns.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Erika Gibson at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

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