Drawn from various units of the South Sudanese army, the troops are part of the contribution of the country to the East African regional task force set aside to provide security and maintain law and order in neighbouring DRC.
The components of military police, military intelligence, signal corps, engineering corps, administration, logistics and infantry units underwent four months of training in Juba.
Military officers say the troops will depart from Juba in the coming days. No official date has been announced.
Sources told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday they would either travel by road through the forest of western Equatoria or on a chartered plane.
“We do not know when we will be deployed. No information has been made known to us. We are just waiting and thanks to the commander-in-chief who was here today to graduate us from our training. we thought it would take a long time like other training we have attended before. This one was short. It took us four and some days and the commander in chief came today and directed the command about how we are going to participate in keeping peace and stability in Congo”, said the source who preferred anonymity.
Addressing the 720 soldiers at the army headquarters in Bilpam, the South Sudanese leader urged the soldiers and officers to represent the country well.
“Go with discipline as good soldiers. It is a similar reason that you are going to Congo today, we have something here called UNMISS, UNISFA, and many more. We have all these here because of the fight you did here,” said Kiir.
The South Sudanese leader said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which has now been disbanded and transformed into the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) was a well-behaved institution during the war of liberation struggle in which he was one of the commanding officers.
“SPLA during the liberation struggle was very disciplined. I don’t want you to go and cause chaos or disorder, don’t go, and engage in the raping of women and girls,” explained Kiir.
He added, “Don’t go and take properties of others in shops, or from civilians, that is not what you are there for”.
The army chief of staff, Gen Santino Deng Wol said SSPDF’s deployment represents the trust the region and the international community have in the leadership and command of South Sudan.
“This deployment represents trust in us and it is you, the soldiers, and officers to ensure this trust is not lost. I am happy you have now been addressed by the commander-in-chief and you listened to him directly. He gave you directives. He spoke to you and please go and perform exceptionally like our national basketball team. When they go and come back home, you see how they are received. Come and bring honour to this country”, said Wol.
Fighting has been raging in the east as the M23 rebel group makes territorial advances, sending tens of thousands of people fleeing from their homes. Over 120 armed groups are active across the mineral-rich eastern Congo, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century. The M23 rose to prominence in 2012 when it captured the main eastern city of Goma, before being driven out and going to ground.
But it re-emerged late last year, claiming Kinshasa had failed to honor a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances. Burundi and Kenya have sent their troops and Uganda is expected to deploy its soldiers in the coming weeks.
South Sudan is of one of the countries in the regional bloc to commit to the pledges it made to participate in the deployment of forces to a member state of the regional bloc.