Two Gripen fighter aircraft streak across the sky. As quickly as they emerge, they are out of sight.

The only evidence of their presence is the deafening explosion as a result of the two 250kg bombs they have just been dropped on the “enemy”.

Minutes later two Hawks drop 180kg bombs on the target. Next come the rocket-propelled grenades, grenades and machine gun fi re as soldiers move in on “enemy”.

These are the scenes being played out in Lohatla, Northern Cape, where the full force of the South

 African Army is on display during a training exercise named Operation Seboka.

Seated in his vantage point on Aasvoelkop – a hill at the SA Army Combat Training Centre – watching the “battle” play out below is Chief of the SA Army Lieutenant-General Vusi Masondo.

He is a man with enormous responsibilities on his shoulders. “Being chief of the army is a huge responsibility. The army is the main component of the SANDF…

We have a huge responsibility to ensure that our soldiers are properly trained because my core business as chief of the SA Army is to prepare soldiers for deployment,” he says.

This means providing soldiers with thorough training so that they can hold their own and minimise the loss of lives when they go into battle, the Lt-Gen points out.

 “I must be able to live with my conscience, knowing that as chief of the army I’ve done everything to properly equip them so they don’t unnecessarily lose lives.”

Another of his duties is to mould the character of young soldiers.

“We have to shape their character and try to build patriotism. It is only when soldiers are patriotic they can serve with the necessary passion required.”

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