ZDF unveils disaster management package

The top tactical course in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for battalion commanders and other high-ranking field and senior officers, has been widened to ensure that this level of command is compatible with national disaster management.

The Battalion, Group Commanders’ Course has been tailored to ensure that its graduands are ready and able to contribute effectively when called in for disaster management and providing support during natural disasters along traditional military roles.

The increase in natural disasters in contemporary times due to climate change has seen the army and air force being called upon more frequently to use their special skills and equipment to provide relief as tropical cyclones and other related disasters have become more frequent, and accompanied by increasing intensity.

Commander Zimbabwe National Army Lieutenant General David Sigauke last Friday presided over the final field firing exercise and graduation parade of the battalion commanders course in Nyanga. He said the new package was necessary to broaden the knowledge base for battalion group commanders who become more active when disasters strike.

“This occasion is indeed an important event on the training calendar of the ZNA as the battalion group commanders course is the most senior tactical course on offer in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

‘‘The comprehensive 14-week course curricula was rich in broadening your knowledge base as battalion commanders, hence failure to make sound, accurate and timely decisions will not be expected,” he said.

“Your studies were aimed at building robust commanders who are able to adapt to fluid and fast-changing modern battlefield environment.

‘‘The role of the military in disaster management was given more prominence due to the lessons experienced during Operation Cyclone Idai conducted in Chimanimani in March 2019.

“The desired aim was to sharpen your knowledge and skills in preparation for such eventualities noting that some parts of Zimbabwe are prone to perennial flooding.”

He said the thrust of the course was also to equip officers with requisite knowledge on the practical handling of troops and equipment within a battalion group setting.

“You were thoroughly trained under rigorous and realistic environment with the objective of nurturing and developing high grade field and senior officers who can effectively manage and lead their troops under all conditions.

‘‘Furthermore, the entire package was designed to develop your competence, confidence levels and initiatives in complexities associated with both peace and wartime eventualities,” he said.

Lt Gen Sigauke said Covid-19 remains a global disaster, hence the need to continue adhering to prescribed regulations.

“Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, your studies also gave due attention to the management of this scourge. As we are the last line of defence, we should continue to train and properly administer and manage the troops in line with World Health Organisation guidelines,” he said.

The final field exercise ended on a high note with a live firing exercise that gave the participants of the course an opportunity to experience real war battlefield situations.

ZDF was able to deploy into affected areas in the initial stages of Cyclone Idai in 2019 to map out the extent of human loss, infrastructure damage and livelihood disruptions.

Since then there have been other natural disasters that have seen army and air force units put on standby. Herald.

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