Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


SA Army Infantry Formation

The Infantry (foot soldier) is as old as war itself. Although the South African Army Infantry men participated in many wars and campaigns as part of various Infantry Regiments and wore the badge of the regiment in which they served or the General Service Badge (roundel with the profile of the Springbok), no defined corps for infantry existed.

After World War II, the Union Defence Force was reorganised and on 18 October 1946, the South African Armoured Corps was established as part of the Permanent Force. The South African Armoured Corps was divided into two groups: the South African Armoured Corps Armour and the South African Armour Corps Infantry. The South African Armour Corps Armour wore the Protea Badge Silver and the South African Armour Corps Infantry wore the Protea Badge Bronze. During that period, various Infantry Permanent Force Instructors formed part of the South African Instructional Corps (SAIC). These instructors did duty at the training depots at Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein and later Oudtshoorn.

In 1953, it was decided to disband the SA Instructional Corps and to establish the SA Infantry Corps and it was also decided to use the frontal part of the head of the Springbok as the corps badge. This badge had already been worn by certain Infanteers in 1953 (those posted to 1 SA Infantry in Potchefstroom). The formation of the SA Infantry Corps was announced in Proclamation No 13 of 22 January 1954. During 1953, three composite training units were established at Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein and Oudtshoorn. Each consisted of a headquarters and logistic element, an artillery battery, an infantry company and an armour squadron. They were 1 South African Infantry Battalion in Oudtshoorn (Inf A Coy), 1 Special Service Battalion Training Regiment in Bloemfontein (Inf B Coy) and 4 Field Training Regiment in Potchefstroom (Inf C Coy).

The new Full-time Force (autonomous Corps units) was established during 1961/62 throughout the Republic of South Africa so as to have a military presence countrywide. The new Full-time Force were now responsible for the training of recruits and units. They also had an operational responsibility. Infantry units were sited at Ladysmith, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn, Upington, Potchefstroom, Lenz, Middelburg and Phalaborwa. There was even a battalion group in Walvis Bay.

In 1994, the Infantry Corps became a fully integrated force of the SA National Defence Force and the SA Army Infantry Formation was established on 1 April 2000 under the command of Major General D.M. Mgwebi who was succeeded by Major General T.M. Nkabinde in June 2003. Women are also now trained as Infanteers.

The year 2007 was the year of performing and norming where the fmn HQ staff were required to add value to the units under command. The emphasis was on the military profession as one where comradeship and respect stand out. Thanks to the tenacity of all the Infanteers, 2007 can be seen as successful as we participated in Exercise SEBOKA and YOUNG EAGLE, while the members are still deployed in Sudan, the DRC and Burundi. In the DRC, the Infantry, under the command of Col Sereko, is training members of their new Defence Force. The Infantry is also training members in the Central African Republic in their country and at 1 SAI Bn and 44 Para Regt. Close to 7 000 Infanteers from both Regular and Reserve units reported within hours when they were called upon during the government servants strike in 2007.

The South African Army Infantry Formation started off with the highlight of the Military Skills Development System intake that reported on 12 January 2009 at the South African Army Infantry School, 9 South African Army Infantry Battalion and 14 South African Army Infantry Battalion. A total of 822 members reported and started their Basic Military Training, which they completed in June 2009.

1 South African Army Infantry Battalion, 9 South African Army Infantry Battalion and 14 South African Army Infantry Battalion were scheduled for participation in Exercise SEBOKA in November/December 2009. Exercise YOUNG EAGLE took place in January 2010. Exercise GOLFINHO, the SADC Brigade exercise took place from 1 to 26 September 2009 at CTC. Instructors presented training in the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of Op VIMBIZELA. All Infanteers trained to participate in the SA Army Combat Rifle Shooting Competition which took place at De Brug from 2 to 7 March 2009 and the South African National Defence Force Fittest Soldier Competition from 23 to 27 February 2009 at the SA Army Gymnasium.

Regiment Westelike Provincie deployed in the Madimbo area, while 15 South African Army Infantry Battalion deployed in the Musina area. Both units were withdrawn in the middle of March 2009 when the function were taken over by the South African Police Service. This deployment ended on a high note where Lance Corporal Slinger of Regiment Westelike Provincie declined an offer of a bribe of R60 000,00 contributing to the arrest of the suspects. Several units were on standby as part of Op PROSPER for the elections in April 2009, while 21 South African Army Infantry Battalion was the reserve and ready to deploy in support of the South African Police Service. 21 South African Army Infantry Battalion was also the reserve, ready for deployment during the FIFA draw and Confederation Cup Competition as part of Op KGWELE. The Infantry School provided three water bunkers to the Sedgefield area to provide water as part of Op HUMAN.

The first infantry battalion to deploy externally was three companies of 1 Para Bn and one company of 6 SAI Bn in Burundi as part of Op FIBRE under the command of Lt Col Eddie Fullard from September 1999 to February 2000. The mission was established to protect the returning political leaders and to train an all-Burundian protection force. The name of the operation changed in January 2007 to Op CURRICULUM, an African Union Special Task Team. Since 2000 one Infantry has battalion deployed every six months to Burundi.

In July 2002, the SANDF deployed a task force to Beni in the DRC as part of MONUC (French acronym for the UN Mission in the DRC). 2 SAI Bn, commanded by Lt Col Koos van Breda deployed under the command of 43 SA Brigade as part of this task force. Since then a battalion has deployed every six months with 5 SAI Bn under the command of Lt Col Chris Els, who is currently deployed. The 6 South African Army Infantry Battalion deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and was replaced by 5 South African Army Infantry Battalion in May 2009. 15 South African Army Infantry Battalion and a company of Witwatersrand Rifles deployed in Sudan and was replaced by 4 South African Army Infantry Battalion. 7 South African Army Infantry Battalion took over from 2 South African Army Infantry Battalion in Burundi and received an excellent combat readiness report.

Op CORDITE was launched in July 2004 with the deployment of staff officers and military observers to Darfur in Sudan. In January 2004, an Infantry Protection Company from mainly 10 SAI Bn deployed to Darfur under the command of Lt Col Engelbrecht. This deployment increased to a battalion in February 2005 when 6 SAI Bn deployed under the command of Lt Col Dries du Preez. 4 SAI Bn, under the command of Lt Col Patrick Gosani, is currently deployed in the Sudan. In March 2006, the AU requested the SANDF to oversee the African Union Mission in the Comoros. For 10 days in June 2006, 9 SAI Bn under the command of Lt Col Clinton Sandmann was deployed during the elections. At some stage they were strengthened by a company of 8 SAI Bn for a short period of time.

Mission THEBE is an SA Army peace-building mission to the DRC that is responsible for the training of three Infantry battalions. The first Infantry battalion trained by Col Piet Sereko and MWO Mike Mushayi at Mura Base near Likasi, was handed over to the DRC in September 2008. The next Infantry training team deployed as soon as authority was granted.

During this decade of peacekeeping missions, the SANDF lost 124 members in enemy actions, military vehicle accidents, illnesses etc,





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list