Tattered Navy will flounder in critical Mozambique role

PENNY WISE, POUND FOOLISH

Tattered Navy will flounder in critical Mozambique role

On the eve of one of its most important maritime security operations since 1994 the Navy is in an existential crisis. The status quo is both untenable and irresponsible, warns DARREN OLIVIER.

EARLIER this month the SAS Makhanda, one of the South African Navy’s (SAN) offshore patrol vessels, sailed into Pemba in northern Mozambique. It was there to begin maritime patrols as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) military mission against the ISIS-affiliated Ansar al-Sunna insurgency.

In time, depending on how the mission unfolds and what funding the South African government makes available, it will likely be joined by another Warrior-class patrol ship, at least one of the Valour-class frigates, and one of Heroine-class submarines. Their task will be to patrol the waters of Northern Mozambique and prevent al-Sunna from being able to receive resupplies or conduct movements via the sea.

It’s a critical mission, given the many reports of the insurgent group receiving equipment by sea and the inability of the corruption-riddled Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM) to secure the country’s waters. Without this sort of maritime interdiction, it would be much more difficult to effectively squeeze and slowly dismantle the insurgency. Its fighters would be able to strategically retreat, re-equip, and bounce back from attacks on land...

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