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23 Jul 21. Defence Secretary reaffirms UK commitment to Indo-Pacific. Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, has visited Japan, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam on a trip to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific region is vital to our strategic interests. The UK is deepening and expanding our defence relationships with key partners in the region to tackle changing global threats.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP said, “My visit this week to the Indo-Pacific region was a fantastic opportunity to engage with our Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese partners and deepen our enduring defence relationships. Exemplified by the deployment of the Carrier Strike Group, Global Britain continues to step forward with our partners in the Indo-Pacific to address shared security challenges and changing global threats.”
The Defence Secretary has also confirmed that two Offshore Patrol Vessels – HMS Tamar and HMS Spey – will be deployed permanently to the Indo-Pacific to support maritime security in the region.
The Carrier Strike Group will shortly arrive off Singapore and operate in the Indo-Pacific region over the coming months.
This deployment is the embodiment of Global Britain in action. The strike group boosts our links with key partners and helps address global security challenges such as terrorism, regional instability, and hostile state and non-state actors. Countering these threats alongside our partners in the Indo-Pacific is vital for the UK’s own security.
As the Integrated Review announced in March, the Carrier Strike group deployment marks the start of a more persistent presence by UK Defence in the Indo-Pacific region over the coming years, re-affirming long standing defence and security partnerships and forging new ones with like-minded partners.
In Japan, the Defence Secretary met with Japanese Prime Minister Suga and Defence Minister Kishi. Our bi-lateral relationship with Japan is the closest it has been in the last century. Both the UK and Japan have a long-standing commitment to upholding regional security and promoting a unified approach to global challenges. They also agreed to accelerate discussions between the UK and Japan on developing sub-systems for a future combat air system.
Our three-year defence engagement plan with Japan will allow the UK Armed Forces to work in a much more integrated way with the Japan Self-Defense Forces. This will turn our strategic ambitions with Japan into a tangible reality.
The Defence Secretary then travelled to the Republic of Korea, where he laid a wreath at the national war memorial alongside Defence Minister Suh Wook, and visited the Joint Security Area within the Demilitarized Zone between the Republic of Korea and North Korea. The visit was a stark reminder of the Korean War and the need to continue to work towards peace on the Korean peninsula.
The UK and the Republic of Korea continue to collaborate on challenging regional security threats, including conducting joint exercises and military training together. The two countries also work closely around the world on peacekeeping missions and addressing global humanitarian issues, such as the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
Next month, the Republic of Korea will also host the Pacific Future Forum. Held onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth while alongside in the Republic of Korea, the three day event is an opportunity for policy makers and industry leaders to discuss issues around defence, security, technology and to promote free trade.
Finally, the Defence Secretary visited Vietnam where he laid a wreath at the Hanoi War Memorial and paid respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. He then met with Minister of National Defence, Snr Lt Gen Phan Van Giang, President of State Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to discuss expanding the defence engagement between our two countries.
He also had the opportunity to meet with the Vietnamese UN peacekeepers to whom UK personnel on Op TRENTON handed over to in South Sudan in 2019, following their construction of a Level 2 hospital.
21 Jul 21. Pentagon confirms first strike in Somalia under Biden administration. The airstrike against al-Shabab militants near Galkayo was carried out by the US Africa Command. The Pentagon confirmed that the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has conducted the first airstrike in Somalia under US President Joe Biden’s administration. The strike near Galkayo was carried out against Al Qaeda-linked insurgent group al Shabaab militants in the East African country, according to news reports.
The militant group mostly targets military bases and civilian infrastructure in Somalia and other regional countries. In an emailed statement to media outlets, US Defence Department spokeswoman Cindi King was quoted by The New York Times as saying that the strike supported a US-trained and advised Somali commando force, Danab.
King told the newspaper: “There were no US forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. US forces were conducting a remote advice-and-assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.
“US forces are authorised to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under collective self-defence.”
Before Biden was inaugurated as US President, the US military forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia on 19 January under the then-President Donald Trump’s administration.
Last year, a total of 63 airstrikes were carried out by the US forces.
As part of Operation Octave Quartz mission, the US forces and assets in Somalia have been relocated to other East Africa operating locations.
AFRICOM continues to train Somalian security forces and sending troops on a rotational basis. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
20 Jul 21. How Japan chose where to base its F-35s. Japan’s defense minister has confirmed that the U.S. ally will base its Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II Short Take off and Vertical Landing or STOVL fighter jets at the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands.
Nobuo Kishi, the Japanese minister of defense, said July 16 that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF base of Nyutabaru on the east coast of the island of Kyushu was “the best fit” to deploy the stealthy fifth-generation fighter. The base is currently home to an operational and a training squadron of JASDF Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle interceptors, and is the southernmost JASDF combat base on Japan’s main islands.
He also revealed that the deployment of the F-35B to Nyutabaru will begin in the 2025 fiscal year with six aircraft. An additional two aircraft will arrive in the following year. Japan’s fiscal year runs from the 1st of April to the 30th of March of the following year.
Japan has plans to acquire 42 F-35Bs and a total of 157 F-35s. The remaining aircraft are expected to be the Conventional Take Off and Landing or CTOL F-35A variant. The JASDF is already in the process of standing up its second F-35A squadron at Misawa in northern Japan.
Japan’s defense ministry has already briefed local officials about the planned basing of the F-35B. Kishi noted that support from the local community was vital to its plans, with opposition from local residents already delaying or thwarting the deployment plans of several systems in recent years, including the basing of the country’s Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Basing the F-35B at the east coast of Kyushu would be ideal for detachments to join up with Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter-destroyers as they deploy from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force bases at Kure and Yokosuka. Japan is converting the Izumo and sister ship Kaga to operate the F-35B.
The first stage of work to convert the Izumo has already been completed, with the ship emerging from an availability period in June with newly painted lines on its flight deck for fixed-wing air operations. It is also believed a heat resistant coating has been applied to the flight deck to cope with temperatures from the F-35B’s exhaust.
The next stage of the conversion will include rebuilding the front of the flight deck from a trapezoidal to a rectangular shape, along with changes to the ship’s internal spaces to accommodate F-35B operations. These changes will likely create an increase in aviation fuel capacity onboard and provision for armored magazines to store air launched weapons.
The modifications to the Izumo are scheduled to be completed in the 2024 fiscal year. Japan’s Chugoku Shimbun has reported that the resurfacing and reshaping of the Kaga’s flight deck will start later this fiscal year, although the modifications to the second ship’s internal spaces will only take place later. (Source: Defense News)
21 Jul 21. Australia launches review into local access to global supply chains. An independent review has been launched to explore opportunities to bolster the local defence industry’s access to the global supply chain. The review is set to focus on facilitating new international business opportunities via the supply chains of eight multinational contractors. Former senior Australian public servant and policymaker Lisa Paul, AO, PSM, has been tapped to lead the Global Supply Chain Program review, which forms part of a broader push to reform defence industry support initiatives.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price has released the Terms of Reference of the review, which has been launched in response to recommendations from the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, which continues to manage the Global Supply Chain Program on behalf of Defence.
“The independent review of the Global Supply Chain Program will identify how we can better position Australian businesses to meet Defence’s future requirements,” Minister Price said.
“The Morrison government is committed to making it easier for small and medium businesses to engage with global supply chains.
“We need these small and medium businesses to be a part of our robust, resilient, and internationally-competitive Australian sovereign defence industrial base.”
Minister Price said the review would enable Defence to provide more targeted support to Australian businesses seeking opportunities with multinational defence companies.
“It will also look at ways to better incentivise the achievement of these outcomes among participating businesses,” she added.
Recommendations from this latest review are expected to be delivered to Minister Price in October. (Source: Defence Connect)
20 Jul 21. Putin inspects new Russian fighter jet unveiled at air show. President Vladimir Putin inspected a prototype of a new Sukhoi fifth-generation fighter jet on Tuesday that Russia unveiled at its annual MAKS air show with an eye on export markets.
The warplane, given the project name “Checkmate”, is likely to be touted as a rival to the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter, said Oleg Panteleyev, head of the Aviaport analytical agency.
The warplane is expected to take to the skies in 2023 with a first batch due to be produced in 2026, Yury Slyusar, head of the United Aircraft Corporation told reporters.
Russia plans to produce 300 of the aircraft over 15 years once serial production begins, he said.
Rostec, Russia’s state aerospace and defence conglomerate, said the plane was hard to detect and would have low operating costs.
Rostec’s chief, Sergei Chemezov, said it would cost $25m to $30m, the RIA news agency reported. Moscow expected demand from nations in the Middle East, Asia Pacific region and Latin America, he said.
“Our aim is to make the cost per flight hour as low as possible, to make it economical not only to buy but also to operate,” said Slyusar.
Russia has successfully produced prototypes of new weapons systems in recent years but has sometimes struggled to move to serial production.
Under Putin, it has invested heavily in military aircraft and new armaments, both for its own armed forces and also to boost export revenue from weapon sales. Many of its new weapons are still based on Soviet-era technology from the Cold War.
Russia already has fourth-generation fighter jets – the heavy-class Sukhoi Su-27 and light-class Mikoyan MiG-29. It has one heavy-class fifth generation fighter jet, the Su-57, but no light-class equivalent, Panteleyev said.
“Light-class fighter jets are more in demand in the world than heavy-class ones – they are cheaper and more suitable for states that don’t have large territories,” he told Reuters.
In 2011, Russia used the MAKS air show to unveil the Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter. United Aircraft, which is part of Rostec, owns the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer that dates back to the Soviet era. (Source: Reuters)
20 Jul 21. India allocates USD9.5bn for domestic procurement in 2021-22. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) will allocate funding worth INR714.38bn (USD9.5bn) towards “domestic capital procurements” in fiscal year (FY) 2021–22, Ajay Bhatt, India’s Minister of State for Defence, said in parliament on 19 July.
In a parliamentary reply, Bhatt said the figure represents 64% of total defence capital acquisition funding for 2021–22, which he said totalled INR1.11trn. He added that in the past three fiscal years the MoD has signed 102 capital procurement contracts with Indian defence companies.
Janes Defence Budgets forecasts that India will spend about USD73bn on procurement between 2021 and 2025. (Janes Defence Budgets)
In another reply, Bhatt said that since FY 2018-19 the MoD had approved 119 defence procurement contracts worth INR2.15trn. He indicated that the majority of these contracts supported domestic manufacturing programmes.
Bhatt said that India’s emphasis on boosting local defence production had been bolstered by the issuance of two ‘indigenisation lists’ since August 2020. These lists contain 209 military platforms, items, and related systems that will be progressively sourced from local manufacturers over a four-year period starting this year.
Further import substitution efforts, said Bhatt, have been channelled through the MoD’s ‘Srijan’ web portal, which was launched in August 2020 to identify opportunities for local companies to manufacture products that are currently provided by overseas suppliers. Bhatt said that since its launch the portal had identified nearly 11,000 imported defence items for local production. He added that local firms had expressed interest in producing about 28% of these items and that Indian state-owned enterprises are currently engaging with the firms to support local production. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Jul 21. Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace meets Japan’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister. During a two-day visit to Japan, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace met with Japan’s Prime Minister Suga and Defence Minister Kishi and reaffirmed the UK and Japan’s shared values and close partnership in defence and security ahead of the visit of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group to Japan in September.
In his meeting with Prime Minster Suga, the Secretary of State emphasised the UK and Japan’s common strategic interests, their commitment to stability in the region and a free and open Indo-Pacific.
During a joint press conference with Defence Minister Kishi, the Secretary of State announced the Japanese ports that elements of the Carrier Strike Group will be visiting. They will be Sasebo, Okinawa, Kure, Yokosuka, and Maizuru. Speaking to media on Monday the Secretary of State also emphasised the robust Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures on board the Carrier Strike Group. This will ensure the visit to Japan will be safe, secure and productive.
Following on from the Carrier Strike Group’s inaugural deployment, the UK will permanently assign two offshore patrol vessels to the Indo-Pacific region from later this year. It will also contribute a Littoral Response Group (LRG) in the coming years, thereby demonstrating the UK’s commitment to collective defence and security in the region in the decades ahead.
The Secretary of State was accompanied Admiral Antony Radakin, First Sea Lord, and Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston, Chief of Air Staff. During the visit the Secretary of State and delegation met with senior leadership from the Japanese Self Defence Forces and the U.S Forces in Japan.
Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace said, “The UK’s defence relationship with Japan is the closest it has been in the last century.
Following exercises with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force in the Gulf of Aden and in the waters off Japan, the upcoming visit of the UK-led Carrier Strike Group to five ports across the country is a clear demonstration of our commitment to maintaining regional security and upholding the rules-based international order with Japan.
Julia Longbottom, British Ambassador to Japan said, “The visit to Japan by senior members of the UK’s armed forces and the Secretary of State represents the ever closer partnership between Japan and the UK and our commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The UK is committed to working with Japan to support regional stability and to meet shared global challenges, such as cyber security, combatting global pandemics and ensuring the global systems that promote the free flow of trade and knowledge are strengthened and defended.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
20 Jul 21. Caught between China and the U.S., Asian countries stockpile missiles. Asia is sliding into a dangerous arms race as smaller nations that once stayed on the sidelines build arsenals of advanced long-range missiles, following in the footsteps of powerhouses China and the United States, analysts say. China is mass producing its DF-26 – a multipurpose weapon with a range of up to 4,000 kilometres – while the United States is developing new weapons aimed at countering Beijing in the Pacific.
Other countries in the region are buying or developing their own new missiles, driven by security concerns over China and a desire to reduce their reliance on the United States.
Before the decade is out, Asia will be bristling with conventional missiles that fly farther and faster, hit harder, and are more sophisticated than ever before – a stark and dangerous change from recent years, analysts, diplomats, and military officials say.
“The missile landscape is changing in Asia, and it’s changing fast,” said David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum.
Such weapons are increasingly affordable and accurate, and as some countries acquire them, their neighbours don’t want to be left behind, analysts said. Missiles provide strategic benefits such as deterring enemies and boosting leverage with allies, and can be a lucrative export.
The long-term implications are uncertain, and there is a slim chance that the new weapons could balance tensions and help maintain peace, Santoro said.
“More likely is that missile proliferation will fuel suspicions, trigger arms races, increase tensions, and ultimately cause crises and even wars,” he said.
According to unreleased 2021 military briefing documents reviewed by Reuters, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) plans to deploy its new long-range weapons in “highly survivable, precision-strike networks along the First Island Chain,” which includes Japan, Taiwan, and other Pacific islands ringing the east coasts of China and Russia.
The new weapons include the Long-range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), a missile that can deliver a highly manoeuvrable warhead at more than five times the speed of sound to targets more than 2,775 kilometres (1,724 miles) away.
An INDOPACOM spokesman told Reuters that no decisions had been made as to where to deploy these weapons. So far, most American allies in the region have been hesitant to commit to hosting them. If based in Guam, a U.S. territory, the LRHW would be unable to hit mainland China.
Japan, home to more than 54,000 U.S. troops, could host some of the new missile batteries on its Okinawan islands, but the United States would probably have to withdraw other forces, a source familiar with Japanese government thinking said, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Allowing in American missiles – which the U.S. military will control – will also most likely bring an angry response from China, analysts said.
Some of America’s allies are developing their own arsenals. Australia recently announced it would spend $100bn over 20 years developing advanced missiles.
“COVID and China have shown that depending on such extended global supply chains in times of crisis for key items – and in war, that includes advanced missiles – is a mistake, so it is sensible strategic thinking to have production capacity in Australia,” said Michael Shoebridge of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Japan has spent millions on long range air-launched weapons, and is developing a new version of a truck-mounted anti-ship missile, the Type 12, with an expected range of 1,000 kilometres.
Among U.S. allies, South Korea fields the most robust domestic ballistic missile programme, which got a boost from a recent agreement with Washington to drop bilateral limits on its capabilities. Its Hyunmoo-4 has an 800-kilometre range, giving it a reach well inside China.
“When the U.S. allies’ conventional long-range-strike capabilities grow, the chances of their employment in the event of a regional conflict also increase,” Zhao Tong, a strategic security expert in Beijing, wrote in a recent report.
Despite the concerns, Washington “will continue to encourage its allies and partners to invest in defence capabilities that are compatible with coordinated operations,” U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Reuters.
Taiwan has not publicly announced a ballistic missile programme, but in December the U.S. State Department approved its request to buy dozens of American short-range ballistic missiles. Officials say Taipei is mass producing weapons and developing cruise missiles such as the Yun Feng, which could strike as far as Beijing.
All this is aimed at “making the spines of (Taiwan’s) porcupine longer as the abilities of China’s military improve”, Wang Ting-yu, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, told Reuters, while insisting that the island’s missiles were not meant to strike deep in China.
One diplomatic source in Taipei said Taiwan’s armed forces, traditionally focused on defending the island and warding off a Chinese invasion, are beginning to look more offensive.
“The line between defensive and offensive nature of the weapons is getting thinner and thinner,” the diplomat added.
South Korea has been in a heated missile race with North Korea. The North recently tested what appeared to be an improved version of its proven KN-23 missile with a 2.5-ton warhead that analysts say is aimed at besting the 2-ton warhead on the Hyunmoo-4.
“While North Korea still appears to be the primary driver behind South Korea’s missile expansion, Seoul is pursuing systems with ranges beyond what is necessary to counter North Korea,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association in Washington.
As proliferation accelerates, analysts say the most worrisome missiles are those that can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads. China, North Korea and the United States all field such weapons.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if a ballistic missile is armed with a conventional or nuclear warhead until it reaches the target,” Davenport said. As the number of such weapons increases, “there is an increased risk of inadvertent escalation to a nuclear strike.” (Source: Reuters)
20 Jul 21. Has the Aus-China relationship passed the point of no return? Is there a path available for Canberra to mend ties with Beijing or has that ship sailed? With the ongoing political and economic row between Australia and China showing no signs of tempering, many observers are calling on Canberra to extend an olive branch, fearing that a prolonged dispute could have an irreversible impact on the nation’s welfare.
Such observers claim that Australia has little choice in the matter, given its dependence on the Chinese market.
But according to Tom Switzer, executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies, reconciliation would only be possible if Canberra submits to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) regional order.
“The truth is most great powers are ruthless beasts: they play hard ball at every turn; and the stronger China gets, the more it’s likely to throw its weight around,” he writes.
Switzer says China’s ambitions extend beyond eclipsing the US as the world’s leading superpower, arguing that the CCP has embraced “wolf warrior” diplomacy that seeks subservience from nations it does not control militarily.
“In the past, China has annexed territory in the old, conventional, imperial sense – think of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia. And that is certainly what it has in mind for Taiwan, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and most of the South China Sea,” he says.
“But elsewhere, what it seeks is not territorial takeovers, but tributaries, in a new sense: the vision is that, thanks to China’s economic clout, other nations will consistently genuflect to it and not cross it.
“This vision has deep roots in China’s own history, summed up in two syllables – kowtow.”
Switzer questions whether it’s possible to rebuild trust with China without acquiescing to its demands.
“[How] do our leaders restore a dialogue with a hyper-nationalist China that wants us to kowtow? Doesn’t that represent a serious threat to our sovereignty? Doesn’t Beijing’s long list of demands as a prerequisite to improving relations make it harder for Canberra to do more to reboot relations with Beijing?”
Switzer stresses that appeasing Beijing would not dissuade the CP from “inflicting pain” on Australia by exploiting its trade dependence.
China, he adds, is mistakenly buoyed by a belief that it has a declining US on the ropes.
“[It] is true, the US is bitterly divided and frighteningly polarised whereas a hyper-nationalist China seems to grow more self-confident all the time,” Switzer writes.
“But the US also remains militarily and technologically the world’s most powerful nation. It is now energy independent whereas China is heavily reliant on foreign fossil fuels.
“US demographic trends are far more bullish than China’s. America’s leading universities remain the world’s best while the dollar remains the word’s reserve currency.”
Switzer claims that while wounded with division, both sides of US politics are aware of the need to curtail China’s bold rush for dominance.
“The evidence is clear that, with its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US is more focused on Asia and intent on co-ordinating the efforts of allies to push back against Beijing’s bullying,” he writes.
“Joe Biden, like his predecessor, supports tougher anti-China measures, including a trade- and a high-tech war, the development of closer relations with Taiwan and the repudiation of Beijing’s claim that most of the South China Sea is its maritime territory.”
Switzer also notes support for an aggressive China policy among the US public, with a recent Pew Research Institute poll revealing that approximately 90 per cent of American adults view China’s power and influence as a threat — 62 per cent of which believe it is a major threat.
Like Americans, Australians are increasingly wary of China, further reducing the likelihood of a change of tone from Canberra.
Findings from the Lowy Institute’s Poll 2021 revealed that trust in China has slumped to a record low, with just 16 per cent of respondents stating they trust China ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ to act responsibly on the world stage, down from 52 per cent three years prior.
Just 10 per cent of respondents said they have ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of confidence in China’s President, Xi Jinping, to ‘do the right thing’ regarding world affairs.
Confidence in the CCP’s chief has more than halved from 22 per cent in 2020, and is down a staggering 33 percentage points from 2018.
With the Biden administration committing to working with regional partners to form a coalition against the Chinese threat, Australia is likely to play a key role in countering CCP aggression across the Indo-Pacific. (Source: Defence Connect)
19 Jul 21. SA Navy also part of Op Prosper. Maritime Reaction Squadron troops deplane. To use – aptly – a naval expression – it’s all hands on deck as the national defence force stretches itself to support police efforts to halt arson, looting and general civil unrest in South Africa.
The naval expression fits the activation and deployment late last week of elements from the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) of the SA Navy (SAN). The latter part of last week also saw boots on the ground in numbers, in particularly Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Western Cape, boosted thanks to airlift and trooping efforts of the SA Air Force (SAAF). A pair of 28 Squadron C-130BZs flew a number of missions between AFB Waterkloof and King Shaka International Airport, north of Durban. Air Force Agusta A109 and Oryx helicopters are tasked for trooping and medevac with AFB Durban-based 15 Squadron, although not officially named, probably the lead rotorcraft unit. An SA National Defence Force (SANDF) LinkedIn post has it Joint Operations tactical headquarters in KwaZulu-Natal “received” troops from the Simon’s town based MRS.
“This Naval component will reinforce forces deployed in KwaZulu-Natal in an effort to protect and secure critical government infrastructure and prevent sporadic incidents of violence, burning of buildings, road blockages, looting and violence.
“All forces deployed in KwaZulu-Natal work in co-operation and support the SA Police Service (SAPS) under the code name Operation Prosper. Deployment of the SANDF is to provide protection for SAPS and other law enforcement agencies while they carry out their constitutionally mandated law and order duties,” SANDF LinkedIn correspondent Captain A Tamela wrote.
In addition to the Navy, Special Forces personnel have been seen in Hornet vehicles in Gauteng. At the time of publishing there was no update on the overall SANDF deployment from its Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC). This, despite its director, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, indicating updates would be provided on a regular basis from Defence headquarters. The Joint Operations division told parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence on Sunday over 21 000 military personnel are currently deployed across the country, including 7 000 in Gauteng and 5 000 in KwaZulu-Natal. Units are on standby in other provinces which are not yet experiencing protest actions. National key points and other assets are being protected, including harbours, airports, refineries, power generation infrastructure, the Union Buildings, Parliament and others.
On 16 July, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula signed a notice, published in the Government Gazette, deploying 2 500 SANDF personnel “for service in co-operation with the SA Police Service for the prevention and combating of crime and maintenance and preservation of law and order in the Republic of South Africa for Operation Prosper. The deployment will be over the period 12 July 2021 until 12 August 2021.”
The deployment, which started at 2 500 military personnel, spiralled upward on a request from SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa, with opposition parties also wanting more soldiers on the ground. A final number of 25 000 was agreed to. This includes all SA Army Reserve Force regiments and units. (Source: DefenceWeb)
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