By Maj. Jean Kratzer, Headquarters, 42nd Infantry Division
RICHARDS BAY, South Africa — Thirty-three New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 107th Military Police Company spent a week training with their counterparts in the South African National Defense Forces.
The Soldiers participated in multiple training exercises with the South African forces, known as SANDF, July 18-26. These included air landing operations, react to ambush exercises, mass casualty operations, hostage and negotiation procedures and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives training.
“The company conducted rehearsals on individual and collective movement techniques, reflexive firing, reporting and the basics of a dismounted squad attack. It was a great experience to be around such a great team of warriors,” said Maj. Teofilo Espinal, the New York National Guard officer based in South Africa to coordinate training exchanges.
The 107th’s tactical exercises were part of Shared Accord, a biennial exercise in which the U.S. military trains and exercises with an African nation’s military.
The 2022 exercise included the 107th Military Police Company field training, a medical training exercise and a training segment.
The Shared Accord series of exercises enables Soldiers to build relationships with partner countries and share visions and planning for security and stability, according to United States Africa Command.
Espinal praised the Soldiers of the 107th for their enthusiasm in tackling the tactical training.
“The 107th arrived in South Africa ready to execute and represent America and the New York National Guard on the world stage with a partner New York has had for 19 years,” he said.
The New York National Guard and South Africa have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2003.
“It was a pleasure having their energy when they arrived to meet me in South Africa, where temperatures dip below freezing during winter mornings. They tenaciously rehearsed battle drills and were forced to relearn mainly light infantry tactics in a week,” Espinal said.
The training was excellent, said Staff Sgt. Jessica Alese, a squad leader in the 107th.
“Training in unfamiliar terrain with well-equipped enemy forces tests our tactical abilities,” Alese said. “My Soldiers maintained high levels of morale and effort,” she said.
“Being in the field and seeing SANDF conduct their operations is a great experience for us to be a part of,” she added.