'Army is ready for 2010'

RAPID RESPONSE: Members of the SA National Defence Force simulate a rescue mission during the 90th anniversary celebrations in Pretoria on Friday. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 31/01/2010. © Sowetan.
RAPID RESPONSE: Members of the SA National Defence Force simulate a rescue mission during the 90th anniversary celebrations in Pretoria on Friday. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 31/01/2010. © Sowetan.

DEFENCE Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the defence force is ready to protect the country should any situation threatening the Soccer World Cup arise.

DEFENCE Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the defence force is ready to protect the country should any situation threatening the Soccer World Cup arise.

Sisulu says the SA National Defence Force will ensure that the country hosts a successful and safetournament.

She was speaking at the SA Air Force's 90th anniversary at Swartkop Airfield in Pretoria on Friday. More than 500 guests attended thecelebration.

More than 40 SAAF aircraft were displayed during a flypast and aerial demonstrations.

Four fully armed Gripen Jet fighters were unveiled for the first time to the public before spectators were treated to a simulation on how the SAAF would respond to an aircraft or bus hijacking situation.

The defence force - both land and air - worked with the police to show how they would defuse the situation should it happen during the World Cup. Spectators were left in awe by the performance.

As soon as the demonstrations were over, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Sisulu boarded the Gripen Jet to inspect it and itscapabilities.

Radebe appeared nervous while being led up into the state-of-the-art machine.

Both Sisulu and Radebe said they were impressed by the capabilities of the air force.

"Today's demonstrations show the world that the combat and peacekeeping unit of government is able to handle any eventuality. I can safely say we are ready for any situation that may threaten the World Cup," Sisulu said.

SAAF chief Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano reiterated Sisulu's sentiments.

"The SAAF has participated in a number of military service all in support of government's responsibility to provide capability to protect and safeguard the airspace around the 2010 Soccer World Cup venues.

"A number of lessons have been learnt in the process. And we are ready to protect the games," Lieutenant-General Gagiano said.

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