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BETHANY – This year’s Army Day was like no other.

This year, the army showed the public how to ‘smoke out’ terrorists from their hideouts. A scenario of soldiers advancing towards a terrorist hideout was displayed, almost like a movie scene. It started with the soldiers dropping off a helicopter using a rope. As they dropped quickly, they then advance towards structures where the terrorists appeared to be hiding in the enactment. A shooting ensued and despite exchange of gunfire, the soldiers advanced quickly, until eventually they defeated the terrorists, much to the applause of the members of the public, who had gathered to watch the spectacular display by the military personnel.

Yesterday was the first Army Day commemoration in which there was a passout of recruits since the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest commemoration included a display of military artillery and air demonstrations like never seen before. His Majesty the King and the Indlovukazi graced the event and the special guest was former Botswana Head of State Ian Khama. This year’s commemoration gave the nation a glimpse of what the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) is all about.


It was also a show of anti-terrorism drills that included a display by bomb disposal squad, an air show that included helicopters and an aeroplane. Anti-terrorism drills are aimed at counteracting the activities of terrorists. As part of their display, soldiers also demonstrated skills in full combat in which they enacted a shootout in progress. They gave members of the public a preview of what happens during a war scenario. This was displayed by the light infantry section and it was referred to as a section attack. In other countries around the world, there is usually a show of firepower whenever there is an anticipation of an onslaught, almost as if to warn a would-be enemy of the danger that lay ahead if they ever thought of attacking.
Fire power display has been seen in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China, Russia and Ukraine.

Since June 29, 2021, Eswatini has experienced terrorist activities, according to the government. The activities left many of the country’s structures burnt. Several structures including schools and other government buildings were burnt in what some of the government officials referred to as terrorist activities. This escalated to deadly violence that targeted members of the security forces, which resulted in the death of police, Correctional Services and army personnel.


The killings were claimed by two underground groups; the Swaziland International Solidarity Forces and the Sikhali Senkhululeko YemaSwati.
The activities of these two groups lead to many emaSwati living in fear of being killed or having their homes burnt. During the unrest, members of the security forces, especially police officers had to exercise extreme caution when attending to scenes of crimes, particularly at night. Meanwhile, the army went on parade its own anti-riot squad, almost similar to the Royal Eswatini Police Service’s (REPS) Operations Support Services Unit (OSSU) that is usually used to disperse crowds during riots.

In what was viewed as the first ever seen in public by the UEDF, a display by the military personnel of a riot unit was witnessed. The unit was dressed in full army gear, carrying batons, fibre glass shields and also helmets. The unit is able to disperse a violent crowd within minutes according to some of the military personnel. The army’s riot unit also displayed its skills as they chanted while walking near Their Majesties. Riot units usually operate to control civilians. Though usually, it is the police that handles civilians, recently due to unrest, soldiers were also roped in to assist the police as crowds became violent. The change in this year’s activity was evident in the manner in which even the Army Commander General Moses Mashikilisana Fakudze introduced the day.


When introducing the newly-trained soldiers to His Majesty the King, Fakudze said ‘they are ready’. He said during the training, they were instilled with loyalty, discipline, self-less service and courage. “Baphekiwe Silo Sikhulu,” said Fakudze, meaning they were ready for service. Also, this year, there were more recruits who passed out in comparison to previous years. This year, over 800 are said to have passed out while previously, the number was lower than this.