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8 South African Infantry Battalion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

8 South African Infantry Battalion is a mechanized infantry unit of the South African Army.[2]
8 South African Infantry Battalion (8 SAI)
The battalion is equipped with Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) used for fast transport and
combat mobility across rough ground. Support weapons for mechanized infantry are also provided
with motorized transport, or are built directly into these IFVs, in order to keep pace with the IFVs
in combat. The battalion was raised at Upington in the Northern Cape in 1973, and assigned to the
Infantry Formation.

8 SAI continues to train for conventional warfare and forms part of the annual brigade-level
Lohatla Army Battle School exercise.[3] Training includes IFV-mounted and dismounted fire-and-
move drills, and integration with Engineers, Armour, Artillery and Air Force elements.[4]

8 SAI Insignia
1 History
1.1 Activation Active October 1973 - present
1.2 Mechanised infantry training at 8 SAI Country South Africa
1.3 Battalion Storm Pioneer Platoon
Allegiance South Africa
1.4 The Border War/Angolan Civil War
1.4.1 Battle of Cuito Cuanavale Branch South African Army
1.4.2 Attack on Calueque Dam Type Infantry
1.5 Namibian independence
1.6 South Africa internal operations Role Mechanised infantry
1.7 Since 1994 Size Battalion
1.7.1 Amalgamation with 61 Mech
1.8 Peacekeeping Part of South African Infantry Formation
2 8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 90's Garrison/HQ Upington Northern Cape Province
2.1 Alpha or attack vehicles
2.2 Charlie or support vehicles Motto(s) Perservate et Superate[1] (Conquer through
3 Ordnance perseverance)
3.1 Current Mascot(s) Gemsbok
3.1.1 Vehicle mounted weapons
3.1.2 Lighter and personal weapons Equipment Ratel IFV, Ratel 90 (ex 61 Mech), Ratel 81
3.2 Future (ex 61 Mech), Ratel 60
4 Insignia Engagements South African Border War
4.1 Previous Dress Insignia
Operation Reindeer (1979)
4.2 Current Dress Insignia
5 Unit song Operation Carrot (1980)
6 Battle honours Operation Sceptic (1980)
7 Leadership Operation Protea (1981)
7.1 8 SAI Training Battalion Operation Daisy (1981)
7.2 8 SAI Operational Group Operation Yahoo (1982)
8 Notes Operation Meebos (1982)
9 References
Operation Phoenix (1983)
Operation Dolfyn (1983)
Operation Askari (1983/4)
History Operation Pronkertjie (1985)
Operation Viper (1985)
Activation Operation Benzine (1986)
Operation Moduler (1987)
The unit was established at Upington in the Northern Cape in October 1973 and received its first
Operation Hooper (1988)
batch of national service trainees the next January. They could, however, not cope with the
Operation Excite (1988)
Gordonia heat and the unit afterwards received trainees in July.(1987 Intake was in February..)
Operation Linger (1988)
Mechanised infantry training at 8 SAI Operation Merlyn (1989) as
part of 63 Mech
By 1976 infantry operations transformed drastically when the Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operation Agree (1989) as
(IFV) was introduced for the first time and in November the first Ratel course was presented at 1 part of 63 Mech
SAI. Similar to 1 SAI, 8 SAI's mechanised leaders followed the same training route all students Namibian Independence
attended the course until the Section Leaders Phase had been completed. Section Leaders were then Operation Agree (1990)
awarded their Lance Corporal stripes and then placed with regular rifle companies. The rest of the UN/AU peacekeeping
future NCOs also received their stripes and future Officers received their white Candidate Officers
Operation Curriculum (2001)
tabs. These students were then evaluated and split into the Mechanised Platoon Commanders
Operation Mistral (2003)
Course and Specialist Instructors Course. These platoon commanders were destined to either
become future leaders of 8 SAIs rifle companies or instructors at the Training Wing, while the Operation Cordite (2006)
Specialist Instructors would become Officers and NCOs responsible for training of Ratel gunners Operation Triton (2007)
and drivers. Battle honours
Battle Honours
All students qualifying as Section Leaders were authorised to wear one parallel yellow bar
above their two Corporal stripes. Awarded
Students that qualified as Platoon NCOs were authorised to wear two parallel yellow bars.
The Platoon NCOs were responsible for the support of the vehicles, guns and signal South West Africa/Angola 1976-1989
equipment of a specific platoon. Mulemba/Mulola
Students that completed either the Platoon Commanders or Specialist Instructors Course
were permitted to wear three parallel yellow bars above their stripes, signifying their platoon Xangongo/Ongiva
sergeant status. Platoon sergeants were responsible for the training and discipline of an
Mavinga II
allocated platoon.
Mavinga III

Cuito Cuanaval


level Insignia

SADF era 8 SAI Mechanised Leader Brassards 1980s
Infantry beret
bar circa 1992
Battalion Storm Pioneer Platoon SA mechanised infantry beret bar circa
8 SAI also had a storm/assault pioneer capability in the 1980s, usually designated Oscar Company.
Assault pioneers were the integral combat engineering component of the battalion. Assault
pioneers were trained in tasks such as:

Field defences and obstacles

Mine detection and removal
Primary demolitions
Non standard bridging
Anchorages and suspension traverses

The Pioneer Platoon provided small tasks and close support capabilities to the battalion
ensuring immediacy of response and decreasing the workload of the engineer squadrons. By the
1990s this function was retired to the Engineering Corps however.

The Border War/Angolan Civil War

Between 1979 and 1989, 8 SAI participated in the Border War. Its contingent was known as 63
Mechanised Battalion Group, part of 60 Brigade. 8 SAI contributed troops to the following

Operation Savannah (1975),

Operation Reindeer (1979), attack on Cassinga, Southern Angola,
Operation Sceptic (1980), destroy control and logistic structures at Chifufua, Southern
Operation Carrot (1981), counter insurgency warfare in the farming districts of Tsumeb,
Otavi and Grootfontein, in Sector 30, Namibia,[5]
Operation Protea (1981), destroy SWAPO command and training center at Xangongo and
logistic bases at Xangongo and Ongiva. Southern Angola
Operation Daisy (1981), attack on SWAPO center at Chitequeta, Southern Angola
Operation Yahoo (1982), mobile skirmishes countering SWAPO infiltration in SWA in
the Ogandjere tribal area, north of the Etosha pans and the Bakenkop farm. 55 insurgents
killed and 16 apprehended. 1 Ratel lost by concentrated RPG fire.
Operation Meebos (1982), attack SWAPO bases identified by reconnaissance teams,
Southern Angola
Operation Phoenix (1983), counter offensive to SWAPO infiltration into Owamboland,
Namibia, 309 SWAPO killed.
Operation Dolfyn (1983), attack PLAN bases and headquarters around the Angolan town of Cuvelai
Operation Askari (1983/4), disrupt logistical support and command & control capabilities of PLAN to suppress an incursion
planned for Jan 1984.
Operation Pronkertjie (1985),
Operation Viper (1985),
Operation Benzine (1986),

Battle of Cuito Cuanavale

63 Mech Battalion
Operation Moduler (1987), Lead up to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale Group emblem
Operation Hooper (1988), Part of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale

Attack on Calueque Dam

The Cubans opened a second front on 27 June 1988 against the South Africans and launched a ground offensive in the direction of Calueque Dam in Southern
Angola. The area to the north of the dam became the scene of fighting. MiG-23 aircraft attacked the facilities, bombing a bridge, sluice gates, a pump, a
generator, and a pipeline to Ovamboland in three waves.[6] 7 soldiers from 8 SAI and 4 from 1 SSB/10 Armoured Squadron lost their lives in this

Operation Excite/Hilti (1988), Draw Cubans out of Techipa, Southern Angola and ambush, preventing an advance to Calueque and SWA/Namibian
Operation Linger (1988) and
Operation Merlyn (1989). Prevent the incursion of PLAN (SWAPO) insurgents into South West Africa/Namibia in contravention of ceasefire effected 1
April 1989.

Namibian independence

8 SAI, as a feeder unit of infantry companies for 63 Mechanised Battalion Group, was part of the last contingent of South African troops to withdraw from
Namibia at independence in 1989-1990 and was actively involved in Operation Merlyn and (Operation Agree) in accordance with the United Nations Security
Council Resolution 435 handing over responsibility to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG).

South Africa internal operations

From 1990, the unit deployed internally in South Africa. Its main tasks at this time included counter insurgency in urban and rural areas.[8]

Since 1994

In June 1994, the unit received its SANDF Colours, the first presented to a unit in the new South African
National Defence Force.[9]

Amalgamation with 61 Mech

In 2006, 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group was disbanded and most of its members and mechanised
equipment were transferred to 8 SAI.

8 SAI's main training area, at Riemvasmaak, north of Upington, was transferred to a civilian community. 8 SAI preparing for joint training with 61 Mech
Since then 8 SAI uses the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatla as it main training area.[10][11] Battalion, Lohatla Army Battle School 1993

Operation Curriculum, 2001-2009, 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for
the African Union in Burundi[12]
Operation Mistral, 2003 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for the African
Union in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Operation Cordite, 2006, 8 SAI companies were involved in peacekeeping operations for the African
Union in the Darfur, Sudan [13][14]
Operation Triton in the Comores oversaw the African Union Mission deployed during the elections.
This was strengthened by a company of 8 SAI to provide stability.

8 SAI was again redeployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Operation Mistral under the
8 SAI COIN operations using airborne infil northern
auspices of MONUSCO in December 2009 to May 2010 and in November 2011 to June 2012.
Kwa-Zulu Natal, 1993

8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 90's

Alpha or attack vehicles

8 SAI Ratel IFVs on maneuver at Lohatla Army Battle

School, Northern Cape

61 Mech Battalion
amalgamated with 8
SAI post 1994

1 Ratel 20 per section, 3 sections per platoon, 3 platoons per company. 1 Ratel command per platoon, 4 per company.
Charlie or support vehicles

Mamba Mk 2 APC used by 8 SAI in peacekeeping



Vehicle mounted weapons

8 SAI is equipped with Ratel 20 Infantry Fighting Vehicles,[15] Ratel 60 mm (2.4 in) Mortar Platform Vehicles, Ratel Command Vehicles with mounted
12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, Ex 61

Mech Ratel 90s and Ratel 81mms, Kwevoel 100 Armoured Trucks for IFV Recovery, field maintenance, fuel bunkers and water provision,[16] Samil 50 and
100 logistics trucks, Samil 20 trucks for its organic field workshops, Casspir APCs for its forward artillery observation party, and Rinkhals Field
Ambulance.[17] 8 SAI has also used Buffel IFVs and Mambas at certain stages in its history. Ratel mounted weapons include the Denel Land Systems GI-2
20 mm (0.79 in) Quick Firing Canon (QFC) (Ratel mounted), 60 mm (2.4 in) breech-loading mortar (Ratel mounted), Browning M1919 [18] Machine gun and
the Browning M2 12.75 mm (0.502 in) Machine gun.[18]

Lighter and personal weapons

8 SAI is equipped with the:

Vektor SS77 Squad Automatic Machine gun,

Fabrique Nationale 7.62 mm (0.300 in) Light Machine gun,
Vektor R4 5.56 mm (0.219 in) assault rifle, 40 mm (1.6 in)
Multiple Grenade Launcher (MGL),
Rocket Propelled grenade launcher (RPG-7),
M26 Fragmentation grenade,[19] Badger IFV earmarked for replacement of the Ratel
M1/M4 60 mm (2.4 in) patrol mortar (PATMOR), and the Denel 99 mm (3.9 in) Fleet 2016 onwards
FT5 rocket launcher.[20]


Under Project Hoefyster, the SANDF will eventually replace the Ratel family of vehicles with the Badger

Nine versions are contemplated of which three are earmarked for mechanized infantry battalions such as 8

Command (turreted 12.7mm MG for self-defence, multiple radios and command post equipment)
Mortar (turreted 60mm breech loading long-range mortar) SANDF exercise Seboka 2007 8 SAI Ratels with 1 SSB
Missile (turreted Denel ZT3 Ingwe) Rooikats
Section (turreted 30mm cannon)
Fire Support (turreted 30mm cannon, but with more ammunition than the section vehicle)
Signal variant
Ambulance variant
Artillery variant

SANDF Badger IFV front view SANDF Badger IFV rear view

Previous Dress Insignia

8 SAI beret badge

8 SAI patch badge 8 SAI Nutria shoulder 8 SAI Nutria shoulder 8 SAI Nutria shoulder 8 SAI Nutria shoulder
flash with North West flash with Northern Cape flash with Northern Cape flash step outs
Command Bar circa 1985 Command Bar circa 1988 Command Bar circa 1990
prior to the activation of forward (yellow forward(black diamonds)
Northern Cape diamonds)
8 SAI Stable belt 8 SAI Stable belt ver 2 8 SAI Stable belt ver 3
original mech infantry

Current Dress Insignia

SANDF Infantry wide SANDF Infantry wide

cloth beret badge shoulder flash

Unit song
Ou Kalahari Wysie
Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld waar gemsbokke nog baljaar,
Daar word 'n seun tot 'n vegter wat leer om sy land te bewaar
Selfs deur die snikhete somer en deur die winter kou,
Leer ons en werk ons en veg ons want ons land is ons hoogste trou.

Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld weg van die stad se gewoel,

Daar leer die manne van 8 SAI te streef na die hoogste doel,
Onder die vry-bloue hemel en ongerepte natuur,
Toon ons ons ware karakter, wys ons ons krag en vuur.[1]

Battle honours
Southwest/Angola 1979-1989
Mavinga II
Mavinga III
Cuito Cuanavale

8 SAI Training Battalion

8 SAI Commemorative medal


From Honorary Colonel To

From Officer Commanding To

1973 Cmdt Tobie Hannekom c. 1975

1976 Cmdt P.J. Bakkes c. 1977

1977 Cmdt M.F. Botha c. 1979

c. 1984 Cmdt Piet Mller c. 1987

c. 1987 Col Johan Jooste[a] c. 1990

c. 1990 Col Jan Malan c. 1993

c. 2000 Lt Col Johan Alberts c. 2003

From Regimental Sergeants Major To

SADF 8 SAI affiliation certificate

8 SAI Operational Gr oup

Commandant G.J. Oberholzer 1993
Colonel Kobus van den Bergh 1990

a. Previously OC 31 Battalion (SWATF)

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AI.html). sadf.info. Retrieved 6 November 2014. ex.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42668:sa-soldier-killed-
2. "SA Army Infantry Formation: Contact Us" (http://www.army.mil.za/hq in-sudan-ambush&catid=111:sa-defence&Itemid=242). defenceWeb.
_units/infantry_fmn/contactus.htm). army.mil.za. RSA Department of 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
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7%2F22-3-324). Retrieved 26 February 2015. amil100Kwevoel.htm). Tips Transport.
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ration-carrot-1981). 61 Mech Battalion Group Veterans Association. --services/products/vehicles). Denel.
Retrieved 8 January 2015. 18. "Ratel" (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/rsa/ratel.htm).
6. "Sentinel Projects: 27th June 1988 Calueque Dam Bomb Damage" (htt GlobalSecurity.org.
p://sadf.sentinelprojects.com/vicar/calueque.html). 19. Leon Engelbrecht (2010-02-17). "Fact file: M26 fragmentation hand
Sadf.sentinelprojects.com. Retrieved 2017-06-19. grenade" (http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content
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to Talks on Peace" (https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/30/world/pretori tid=79:fact-files&Itemid=159). defenceWeb. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
a-says-angola-raid-is-threat-to-talks-on-peace.html). NYTimes.com. 20. Leon Engelbrecht (2010-11-08). "Work underway on RPG replacement"
Retrieved 2017-06-19. (http://defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article
8. Baker, Deane-Peter; Jordaan, Evert, eds. (2010). South Africa and &id=10464:work-underway-on-rpg-replacement-&catid=50:Land&Ite
Contemporary Counterinsurgency: Roots, Practices, Prospects. (http:// mid=105). defenceWeb. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=34366) Claremont: 21. Leon Engelbrecht (2009-03-05). "SA Army horse shod by December?"
International Publishers Marketing. ISBN 978-1-919895-33-8. (http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index2.php?option=com_content&task=
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