11 November 2013 by Guy Martin – defenceWeb
Enhancing the Reserve force, building up the South African Army and strengthening peacekeeping capacity are some of the Department of Defence’s main priorities, according to its annual report.
The report, for the 2012/13 financial year, said the enhancement of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Landward Defence Capabilities was “essential” in order for it to carry out all the missions required of it.
The report noted that the South African Army received no equipment from the Strategic Defence Procurement Package, like the other arms of service did, and is thus lacking technologically advanced equipment. Enhancement “is considered a priority”, especially if the Army is to operate jointly with the Navy and Air Force.
More money was allocated last year to the landward defence programme, due mainly to extra maintenance requirements for the SA Army’s ageing vehicles and the renewal of some equipment. The SA Army will further be enhanced in the coming years with the delivery of Badger armoured vehicles, which are being built by Denel Land Systems.
Enhancing the SANDF’s peacekeeping capability and deployability was another priority, as “the role of the SANDF in promoting peace and security in the region and on the African continent necessitates the enhancement of the SANDF’s peacekeeping capability that will include the SANDF’s Forward Deployment Capability.”
The Department of Defence report noted that the revitalisation and transformation of the reserves was an important ongoing task, as the Reserves are needed to fulfil various defence tasks in support of the regulars. “The Reserves were transformed to fulfil their primary role of providing the majority of the conventional landward capability of the SANDF, whilst at the same time supplementing the peace support missions conducted by the Regulars,” the report noted. Thousands of reserve forces personnel were used during the 2012/13 financial year to support everything from border safeguarding to peacekeeping deployments.
In its report, the Department of Defence stated that it was important to review the arrangement for the repair and maintenance of defence force facilities, with the aim of establishing an in-house DoD Works Capability. This would allow the SANDF to assume full responsibility in looking after its own facilities, following problems encountered with the National Department of Public Works (NDPW).
“The DOD has steadily progressed with the establishment of the Defence Works Formation which is currently functional and executing identified renovation projects for facilities occupied by the DOD in close co-operation with the NDPW,” the report said. “The creation of the Works capability has enabled the DoD to assume selected custodian responsibilities from NDPW and in the process created job opportunities.”
Other priorities outlined in the annual report included job creation, the National Youth Service, enhancing maritime security (primarily through the South African Maritime Strategy) and restructuring and supporting the defence industry (through the Defence Review Committee).
A number of capacity constraints were identified by the DoD’s accounting officer that impacted on priorities, such as skills losses, which “continued throughout the period under review, resulting in some critical skills needing to be acquired from industry at exorbitant cost. Although new personnel were recruited and trained, it will take time for these members to gain the necessary experience.”
The skills shortage affected peace support missions, leading to the to the non-compliance with minimum standards of serviceability of major equipment. Consequently, the Department of Defence was not fully reimbursed by the United Nations for the use of its equipment.
As previously mentioned, the state of primary equipment, particularly within the Army, “continued to decline to unacceptable levels. Additional funding provided for maintenance and repair of the operational vehicle fleet has had some effect, but is not sufficient to address this concern adequately. The rejuvenation of these capabilities therefore remains one of the DOD’s top priorities.”