The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is expected to soon place a contingent on standby for short-notice deployments within the framework of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC).
As one of the countries pushing for this capability to bridge the gap until the much-delayed African Standby Force can become effective, South Africa is thought to have agreed to have a contingent on standby from December, a little later than the originally intended date of 1 October.
It is still unclear how long the standby periods are intended to be. Originally, periods were thought to be three months, but it is dependant on how many countries can make forces available.
The Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, has provided some details of the composition of what will be a joint combat group with a strength of more than 1,500 personnel.
The army will provide a motorised infantry battalion (9 SA Infantry Battalion equipped with Casspir armoured personnel carriers); a composite mechanised car squadron (Ratel-20 infantry combat vehicles from 1 SA Infantry Battalion, Rooikat armoured cars and possibly Ratel-ZT3 tank destroyers from 1 Special Services Battalion); a light artillery battery (1 Light Artillery Regiment with 120 mm mortars); a light anti-aircraft battery (10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment with Starstreak missiles); a troop from 2 Field Engineer Regiment; a troop from 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment; and a composite signals squadron with elements of 1, 2 and 5 Signals Regiments, including communications intelligence teams. Most of the force elements will be equipped with Casspirs.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) will provide a mobile air operations team (MAOT), two Gripen multirole fighters, two Rooivalk attack helicopters, two Oryx medium transport helicopters, two A-109 light utility helicopters, and two C-130s.
It is unclear whether the SAAF expects deployed pairs to be mission-ready throughout such a deployment, or whether the intention is to deploy three of each to ensure availability. Two of a kind will give only very limited operational capability.
The South African Navy will provide elements of its Maritime Reaction Force, including riverine or inshore craft and Marines, depending on the requirements.
The SA Military Health Service will provide a medical task group and a level-two hospital, and the Military Police a platoon.
The Crossroads of Special Operations