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The Sadc Special Forces conference bringing together senior military personnel from the region opened here yesterday with a call for heightened preparedness to counter the threat of terrorism. It also called for the establishment of a rapid response force to stop the spread of conflict and security threats. The force is expected to precede the deployment of the Sadc Standby Brigade to hotspots.

Addressing army generals from nine Sadc countries, Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff General Staff Major-General Trust Mugoba said the conference was aimed at activating rapid response capabilities in the region.

“In the context of trying to set up a rapid response force in the region, we realised that there is need to hold regular training programmes,” he said. “This conference has a training element for special forces.”

The training is code-named “Exercise Mahombekombe” and it is running under the theme: “Combat Survival, Navigation and Counter Terrorism”.

It will put to test the Sadc forces’ combat and navigation capabilities in the tough terrain of Lake Kariba’s shores.

Maj-Gen Mugoba said there was increased threat of terrorism in the world and efforts needed to be made to counter it through training on managing hijackings and kidnappings.

Maj-Gen Mugoba said Sadc regional co-operation had been put to the test on several occasions, including operations such Sovereign Legitimacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and instabilities in Lesotho and Mozambique.

“Terrorism is a threat everywhere and the Sadc Special Forces need to be prepared to manage situations rapidly through enhancing their skills,” he said.

Maj-Gen Mugoba said the Sadc Special Forces will also deal with social security threats like flooding, natural disasters and xenophobia.

“We have had deployments in Mozambique and Lesotho, not necessarily as forces for conflict, but as observers,” he said.

“SADC has mandated that national defence forces must develop capabilities to respond to disaster.

“Last year we had support from Namibia which assisted us with helicopters during the flooding at Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo.”

Source : The Herald

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