Lessons have shown Training among the Best.

Clyde Russell

Source: Paratus, December 1988, page 43.

61 MECHANISED Battalion Group together with 4 SA Infantry Battalion, are the only fully operational units in the SA Army. The unit has been involved in all the major operations that have taken place in Angola and South West Africa. In fact, it could be said that this unit has been responsible for the safekeeping of South West Africa. The unit recently celebrated its tenth birthday.

In1978 it was decided that a mobilised force should be established in order to counter any conventional threat from Angola. Maj Gen Joep Joubert set up "Battle Group Juliet". On 4 May 1978 the unit was responsible for the attack on the "Vietnam" Swapo base. This was "Operation Reindeer" and the unit was under command of the (now) Brig Frank Bestbier. With the success of this operation it was decided to establish the unit on a permanent basis. This was accomplished on 2 January 1979 with the administrative headquarters in Tshumeb and the tactical headquarters in Omuthiya.

61 Mech Bn Gp is responsible for carrying out pre-emptive attacks on Swapo as well as countering any conventional threat to SWA. The unit has taken part in Operation Smokeshell, Protea, Daisy, Askari, Modular, Hooper, Exite and Hilti. The unit has been commanded by Col. J.M. Dippenaar, Col. R. de Vries, Col. S. van Zyl, Col. E. van Lill, and Cmdt. J.J. Smit. The current OC is Cmdt. Mike Muller and the RSM, WO1 J.J. Kemp.

61 Mech Bn Gp is a full fighting force. It has the equipment necessary to enable it to meet any attack on SWA. The unit is on a permanent state of combat readiness. In recent months the unit has achieved considerable success. As part of a task force during Operations Moduler, Hooper and Exite, 95 enemy tanks were destroyed. Approximately 7000 casualties were inflicted on the enemy and a large number of soft skinned vehicles were destroyed.

Cmdt. Muller said in an interview: "We have learnt several lessons during past operations that show that the training in the SA Army is among the best in the world."

61 Mech Bn Gp's motto is "Mobilitate Vincere" - Destruction of the enemy through mobility. The unit is now ten years old and its successes speak for themselves.

61 Mech Bn Gp is the sharp point of the SANDF. On the occasion of the unit's tenth birthday congratulations were extended to all those who have contributed to the unit and its success.

Published: 24 November 2003.

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