South African Army soldiers visit U.S. Army Africa
October 6, 2011
VICENZA, ITALY -- Chief Warrant Officer Charles Laubscher and Master Chief Warrant Officer Ketshwerebothata R. Boikanyo from the South African Army took part in a U.S. Army Africa command visit Sept. 26-29.
Laubscher and Boikanyo were engaged in a variety of activities during their three-day visit. Their schedule included meeting with USARAF Commander Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, attending various directorate and command briefings, and observing instruction at the regional training support center.
Additionally, Laubscher and Boikanyo visited the Common Wealth War Cemetery in Padova, Italy where more than 500 Soldiers and Airman who fought as part of the United Kingdom's armed forces in World War II are buried. Several South African Army Soldiers are interred at the cemetery.
Laubscher and Boikanyo, along with USARAF Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes honored the fallen of World War II in a short wreath-laying ceremony at a toweringly elegant cross in the heart of the cemetery.
For Boikanyo, the visit to the war cemetery was a poignant connection to the present. Boikanyo is the ranking enlisted infantryman for the South African Army. While reading the names and units of those buried at the cemetery, he came across the name of Rifleman M. Bryant who was member of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade.
"I will speak of this visit to the war cemetery and our Soldiers buried here when I return to South Africa," Boikanyo said.
Boikanyo complemented U.S. Army training and infrastructure at Caserma Ederle.
"The facilities and training are magnificent. I'm very impressed," he said.
According to Boikanyo, the relationship between the South African and U.S. Army is a dynamic educational process.
"We can share a teaching and learning opportunity for both sides," he said. "We are here learning about how the U.S. Army operates. I also think the U.S. Army can learn about our tactics from the African continent side."
Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes said the relationship between the South African and the U.S. Army is growing.
"South Africa is a great partner in many ways. We need to build on this already positive relationship to nurture a productive future for affecting good in the specific southern region of Africa and, indeed the entire continent," Rhodes said.
Rhodes said command visits from African partner nations help prepare USARAF leadership for the future.
"Each level of any chain-of-command is critical at different times. There are certainly times when the opinions of senior enlisted leaders, like the South Africans from this visit, will be sought. The better we understand each other's desires and goals, the better we can work together for a mutually beneficial outcome to any event," Rhodes said.