South Africa: South African (SA) Army shortlists have come together at the General De Wet Classification Shooting Range at De Brug outside Bloemfontein to vie for musketry supremacy. The Regular and Reserves of the South African Army are joined by their counterparts from the Botswana Defence Force, Lesotho Defence Force and Zimbabwe Defence Forces in a programme that runs from 14 to 20 May 2023.
The Chief Director of South African Army Force Preparation, Major General P.N. Dube, was on hand on Monday, 15 May 2023, to represent the Lead Lion, Chief of the South African Army – Lieutenant General L.K. Mbatha, declaring the competition open at the range after a short briefing by Acting General Officer Commanding of the South African Army Armour Formation, Colonel W. Jansen and Officer Commanding of 1 Special Service Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel B.D. Madolo.
Considering the unity of effort seen in the ‘One Force Concept’ of Army Regulars and Reserves, joined by their South African Development Community (SADC) partners at the event, Major General Dube stated during the morning briefing that “we South Africans and continental comrades are seen here to be in action”.
He emphasised that “while soldiers were here to do what they do best – shooting”, the lively competition between peers from home and abroad was “commensurate with going all out in the Army’s resolve to restore its dignity to its rightful glory.”
It is noted that the South African Army’s line commanders hold responsibility for maintaining high standards of musketry training and soldiering skills. The Combat Rifle Shooting Evaluation, comparable with the Military Skills Competition, is an extension of musketry training, requiring progressive effort to maintain high standards to the benefit of the organisation and the country as a whole.
The 245 men and women participating on behalf of their respective units stand to benefit massively from what each one brings to the rifle range as they constantly strive to be the best of the best.
At the Evaluation opening, Major General Dube said that “The bottom line is that we are all soldiers. We are gathered here as members of SADC in the spirit of the multilateralism approach of the South African government at home, on the continent and the world.”
“We believe that we cannot do things alone, and we must move forward with our friends. We have trained and will now shoot and see who is the best,” he said.
In thanking the men and women who had come to compete, he wished each one the very best of luck and reminded them that the event “… teaches us not only to strive to win but also to endure, if necessary, that feeling of losing.” It was indeed heartening to host another such competition since the last edition was held at the same venue in June/July 2019.
Chief Army Force Preparation hopes that this event will allow the South African Army, South African National Defence Force and Department of Defence “to continue to frame its objectives through military diplomacy and to share in the associated expertise and culture brought about by military to military relations”.
Major General Dube extended Chief Army’s “sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the South African Army Armour Formation and the rest of the organising committee” for helping to make the event possible.
After declaring the competition open, Major General Dube took the opportunity to interact not only with South African team captains but also with those from Botswana, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, and also recognised especially the female shootists from the Botswana Defence Force who had come to test their mettle against the Pride of Lions and its Lionesses.