Alicedale welcomes US, SANDF partnership
August 29, 2013
U.S. and South African Defense Force infantrymen dismounted from light medium tactical vehicles and conducted tactical movements through the small rural town of Alicedale in a joint effort to rid the area of 'insurgent' activity July 25 as part of Exercise Shared Accord 2013.
Shared Accord 13 is a biennial joint exercise between the South African and U.S. militaries meant to increase capacity and enhance interoperability between the two forces. This is the second time this type of exercise has been conducted by the two forces--the first occurring in 2011.
"Our mission today for the platoon was to conduct a movement to contact to allow our company to move into the area," said Army Staff Sgt. Arthur Caldera, a team leader with Co. B, 1st Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. "Our South African partners will move in first to clear the way."
The scenario involved winning over the local population, which worked in favor of the two forces. Many of the town's citizens welcomed the U.S. and SANDF forces and thanked them for their joint efforts.
During this operation, U.S. Soldiers faced realistic challenges such as reacting to improvised explosive devices and providing first aid for the wounded.
"In this scenario an improvised explosive device was set off," said 1st Sgt. Michael Fulkerson, first sergeant for Co. B. "The most important thing to remember is that the fighting does not stop because a man goes down."
Meanwhile, the SANDF Soldiers scenario involved taking on small arms fire, something they overcame, albeit with some technical issues.
"We were taking on small arms fire from both directions," said South African Lt. Nkosiyethu Calvin Ndaza, a platoon leader with the 9th South African Infantry. "We pushed through successfully, but we had problems with our communications. This is something we will have to work more on."
After completing the mission, both forces left the small town with a better understanding of how to bring their forces closer together.
"We started off slower than normal," said Capt. John Young, Co. B commander. "With this exercise we know what we have to work on. We do movements very similar to our partners but we know where we need to improve."
This was one of many operations these infantrymen participated in throughout this 15-day exercise. In addition, these Soldiers conducted situational training exercises, which included squad, platoon and company movements.
The exercise concluded with a live fire exercise, which was observed by senior U.S. and South African officials.