4 OCTOBER 2004

Note of Appreciation

The Institute for Security Studies wishes to use this opportunity to congratulate the Department of Defence and the South African National Defence Force for the sterling work that they have done in the interest of peace and security in Africa despite the many difficulties that they have faced. The Institute also wishes to thank the Portfolio Committee on Defence for this opportunity to contribute to the defence debate in South Africa.


During the period 1994 to 1998 South Africa developed a comprehensive defence policy framework through transparent and consultative processes that led to the promulgation of the White Paper on Defence in May 1996 and Defence Review in April 1998. This was done against a background of a totally changed strategic environment calling for the development of a defence policy starting from zero. Since then, it has become clear that some of the premises on which this policy framework was based were overly optimistic and have not fully realized. During the 1994 to 1998 era, it was envisaged that the ending of the cold war and apartheid would bring peace, stability and development to Africa and that the RDP would rapidly create internal stability and security. For this reason much emphasis was placed on the so-called ‘primary function’ of the SANDF and this was very narrowly defined as ‘defence against external aggression’. However, in reality, the SANDF has become an increasingly important instrument of foreign policy and has become involved in peace missions in Africa far beyond original expectations. At the same time the internal involvement of the SANDF in support of the SAPS in the fight against crime has continued at about the same level as before 1994. These activities, together with the demands placed on the SANDF for integration, transformation and development of core conventional capabilities have placed pressure on the SANDF budget and management to balance priorities and maintain its determined capabilities. It is therefore necessary to revisit some of the premises that underpin current SA defence policy and redefine the ‘primary role’ and employment priorities for the SANDF to redirect the defence budget in order to meet the demands for ‘defence in the 21st century’.

This submission gives a perspective on the background to the White Paper and Defence Review, attempts to explain the rationale for some policy decisions, indicates the most pertinent changes in the strategic environment that have led to discrepancies between policy and practice and makes recommendations for the adaptation of existing defence policy. It concludes that the increasingly important role of the SANDF in support of foreign policy, the positive developments in the emerging African defence and security architecture, the internal situation in South Africa and the imperative for efficiency in defence spending necessitate a reconsideration of some of the premises of current defence policy. The submission makes the following four recommendations to the Portfolio Committee on Defence; (1) to revisit the definition of the primary function of the SANDF; (2) to initiate studies on the applicability and feasibility of the principles and concepts of confidence-building defence for South Africa; (3) to initiate a re-consideration of the role of the part-time component of the SANDF including the territorial reserves (commandos); and (4) to initiate studies for efficiency improvements in the DOD.



1. Post-apartheid defence policy in South Africa developed in an open and consultative manner. It developed in phases starting with the negotiations for the Interim Constitution of South Africa (1993), which included a chapter establishing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Shortly after the 1994 elections the Government of National Unity started with the development of the White Paper on Defence (completed in 1996) and the Defence Review (completed in 1998). The latter was the culmination of the defence policy development process. These documents established the national defence posture, defined the functions and tasks as well as the required force design of the SANDF and described the overall structure of the Department of Defence (DOD). They also laid down the principles for the governance of defence in a democracy and the basic framework for the management of the DOD. They have subsequently served as the foundation for the further development of defence legislation (including a new Defence Act), policy and doctrine and have been the primary frame of reference for the initiation of the much-debated strategic defence acquisition projects.

2. Despite the open and collaborative process that was used to develop this defence policy framework, a significant discrepancy has developed between the outcome of the Defence Review process (stated policy) and the current situation regarding the employment and funding of the SANDF (practice). This is mostly due to the fact that some of the assumptions underlying South Africa’s defence policy have not fully realised.

3. The ending of apartheid brought with it a vision of peace and stability in Africa and of growth and development. Nationally the focus was on the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) that would produce internal stability and growth. For this reason the White Paper and Defence Review argued that South Africa could significantly reduce defence spending and concentrate on the establishment of a small (core) conventional regular force and a large part-time force, which could be mobilised when required. It was anticipated that the SANDF would progressively withdraw from the internal policing function and that a force of about 1 000 soldiers, with air, maritime and medical support units, would be sufficient for the country’s international and regional peace support obligations.

4. These planning assumptions, combined with budgetary restrictions, led to the approved establishment of a defence force of some 55 000 uniformed regular soldiers focussed on the maintenance of a core conventional capability. This figure includes the Army, Air Force, Navy and Military Health Service and is also inclusive of all uniformed support and headquarters personnel. The total strength of the DOD, civilians included, was set at 70 000. The regular force was to be backed by a sufficiently large part-time component to ensure expansion capability when required.

5. In looking back, and considering current developments and realities, it is clear that some revision of South African defence policy is required. It is submitted that the major issues that should be addressed are:

  1. The definition of the primary and secondary roles of the SANDF;
  2. The new demands being placed on the SANDF by Africa’s emerging defence and security architecture;
  3. The role of the part-time component of the SANDF; and
  4. Internal efficiencies within the DOD.


6. According to the South African Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) "The primary object of the defence force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force". The Constitution does not name any secondary objects or functions of the Defence Force but, through Schedule 6; Transitional Arrangements; Section 24 (1) provides for the retention of Section 227 (1) of the Interim Constitution Act No. 200 of 1993 which provides that "The Defence Force may be employed;

  1. for service in the defence of the Republic, for the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity;
  2. for service in compliance with the international obligations of the Republic with regard to international bodies and other states;
  3. for service in the preservation of life, health or property;
  4. for service in the provision or maintenance of essential services;
  5. for service in upholding of law and order in the Republic in co-operation with the South African Police Service under circumstances set out in law where the Police Service is unable to maintain law and order on its own; and
  6. for service in support of any department of state for the purpose of socio-economic upliftment".

7. The provision that the Defence Force ‘may be employed for’ does not imply that the Defence Force ‘must be designed for or ‘exists for the reason to’ but rather that because the Defence Force exists and has certain inherent capabilities it may be employed for other tasks over and above its ‘Primary Object’. In later policy development it was therefore concluded that the SANDF should be designed for its primary object and that it must provide other services through its collateral utility. This statement, if true, requires a closer examination of the ‘Primary Object’ of the SANDF.

8. Whilst most dictionaries describe the two words defend and protect as synonymous, the fact that both are included in the constitutional description of the primary object of the SANDF indicates a clear distinction in the intent of their use. To defend the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people would imply defence against some form of external belligerent/military threat to these entities. To protect the same would seem to have a wider meaning, which includes protection from abnormal eventualities such as natural disasters, crime and violence beyond the control of the Police, other non-state violence and internal threats to the constitutional order amongst others.

9. The protection function of Government is, however, not restricted to the SANDF. The Constitution also provides that "The objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law". Chapter 3 of the Constitution states "All spheres of government and all organs of state within each sphere must […..] secure the well-being of the people of the Republic". It is clear that for many of the functions mentioned above, the primary responsibility rests with governmental structures other than the Department of Defence. It is for this reason that the words "co-operation with the SAPS" and "support of any department of state" are used. In fact all of the secondary functions of the SANDF are supportive of other government departments and/or civil society organisations. As examples the protection of the citizenry against the elements lies, amongst others, with the Department of Housing and against sickness and disease with the Department of Health. But even in these the SANDF can play a supportive role through its inherent capabilities such as engineering units and military health infrastructure and personnel.

10. How then does the SANDF defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people? This is well argued and described in the White Paper on Defence. The White Paper clearly spells out South Africa’s strategy for the protection of the state and its people through the hierarchy of:

  1. Political, economic and military co-operation with other states;
  2. The prevention, management and resolution of conflict through non-violent means and,
  3. The use or threat of force as a measure of last resort.

11. The White Paper argues that government's preferred and primary course of action is to prevent conflict and war. "South Africa will therefore only turn to military means when deterrence and non-violent strategies have failed. Deterrence requires defence capabilities that are sufficiently credible to inhibit potential aggressors". The hierarchy for the defence of South Africa is thus clearly (i) the prevention of conflict and war, (ii) the containment of conflict and war and (iii) the employment of military force as the last option.

12. Despite the above, the White Paper goes on to define the primary function of the SANDF as "to defend South Africa against external military aggression" and determines that the SANDF should be designed mainly around the demands of its primary function. It determines, incorrectly and in contrast to its own defence strategy logic, that peace support operations is a ‘secondary task’ and should ideally be executed largely by means of the collateral utility inherent in the design for the primary function, defence against external military aggression.

13. The overemphasis on the primary function of the SANDF as the defence of South Africa against external military aggression and the primacy of designing the SANDF for this function only came about for two reasons. Firstly, the new ruling party was painfully aware of the results of allowing the apartheid SADF to become involved in political and internal stability matters. The ANC accepted the need for a defence force but wanted one that would be truly apolitical (non-partisan) and professional; therefore one that was restricted to purely conventional military tasks. At the same time, the military command structure of the new SANDF (overwhelmingly officers from the old SADF) were concerned about the aging of conventional military equipment and the loss of capabilities and saw the strong focus on the primary function of conventional defence as an opportunity to motivate for the re-equipping of the SANDF. This was also supported by the captains of the Defence Industry and was in fact a marriage of convenience between unlikely parties. In the second place, the utopia of the ending of apartheid brought an unrealistic vision of the end of conflict in Africa and a dream of continental peace, stability and development. There was therefore not much thought about the role that the SANDF might have to play in shaping the conditions of peace and stability on the continent for the realisation of the African Renaissance. The current demand for the SANDF in African peace missions was simply not formally envisaged. This boiled down to the following; if we accepted the need for a defence force due to the uncertainties of the future but wanted this defence force to remain disengaged from internal stability matters and did not foresee a significant role for it on the continent, we could only build a defence force based on the logic of ‘defence against external aggression’ and, as this was a remote possibility, we needed to build a defence force on the concept of ‘a small conventional core force with the ability for rapid expansion based on a sufficiently large reserve component’. Such a force would be able to execute any ‘secondary functions’ using the collateral utility available in its primary design. This policy framework fundamentally influenced the later development and acceptance of the Defence Review force design.


14. Based on the White Paper policy direction, the Defence Review (1998) developed the concepts of the primary function of the SANDF, its secondary tasks and the core force logic into more tangible defence doctrines and a force design for the future SANDF. The eventually approved force design as reflected in Chapter 8 of the Defence Review became the blueprint against which the subsequent development of the SANDF was undertaken and against which the acquisition of the so-called ‘strategic defence package’ was conducted. Unfortunately, in doing so, some important provisions of the Defence Review were overlooked. These are captured in paragraphs 8 to 13 of Chapter 8 of the Defence Review and state:

"8. The approval of a force design by the parliamentary defence committee, Cabinet or Parliament does not constitute blanket approval for all implied capital projects or an immutable contract in terms of the exact numbers and types of equipment. At best, it constitutes approval in principal for the maintenance of the specified capabilities at an approximate level. There are several reasons for this.

9. The affordability of the force design, which is central to its implementation, is subject to certain assumptions and qualifications. The long-term sustainability of the design requires a continuous investment in the periodic upgrading and replacement of equipment. The costing of the design thus incorporates annualised upgrade and replacement costs over the life span of the equipment. This is based on realistic assumptions, under present conditions, of the anticipated life span and cost of such equipment. Since the life span of major equipment is measured in decades and many replacement projects will commence many years hence, it is impossible to predict with absolute accuracy the actual annualised cost of equipment.

10. The process further assumes that the current imbalance in the so-called tooth-to-tail ratio of the SANDF will be corrected by the transformation process, thus releasing a greater portion of the budget for combat capabilities. The ratio on which the calculations are based is an estimate of the anticipated result of transformation.

11. The numbers and costs of equipment in future replacement projects will also be affected by technological developments, which may improve future equipment capabilities. On the other hand, less capable equipment may be available at a lower unit cost. During each procurement project a trade-off will thus have to be made between the required overall capability, the equipment available to the SANDF, cost, and available funds. These details can only be determined under the conditions prevailing at the time, and all major acquisition projects will thus be subject to the processes and levels of approval provided for in the White Paper on Defence.

12. The processes and assumptions on which the force design is based will be reviewed in successive planning cycles. This is bound to produce new insights that will require a periodic revision of the force design. The planning assumptions also reflect perceptions of the geopolitical environment, which will inevitably change. While no major discontinuities are anticipated, even gradual, relatively orderly change will require adjustments to defence planning on a continuous basis.

13. The force design thus reflects a dynamic environment and is itself dynamic. It represents the best present indication of the type and scale of defence capabilities that South Africa should establish and maintain, but its future orientation makes deviations inevitable. The transformation process in particular will impact directly on the force structure required to support the force design: force structure is subject to the Department’ s transformation project, which will be discussed in detail in the course of the Defence Review process."


15. Since the completion of the White Paper and the Defence Review, a lot has happened to put strain on implementing defence policy as well as to indicate the need for a re-evaluation of the policy itself. The major shifts in the strategic environment and the non-realised planning assumptions include:

  1. The conflict situation in Africa and the demand that this has placed on the SANDF to support foreign policy initiatives through peace support operations;
  2. The developing African defence and security architecture and the move towards collective security processes and structures;
  3. The internal crime situation in South Africa that continues to place demands on the SANDF for deployments in support of the SAPS;
  4. The non-realisation of any real efficiency improvements in the SANDF in the transformation process;
  5. The deterioration in the capacity of the Part-Time Component of the SANDF; and
  6. The strategic defence acquisition packages.

16. These changes have caused a greater demand for SANDF services both externally and internally whilst the budget provision has not kept pace allowing for the simultaneous development of the SANDF in line with policy.

Conflict and Security in Africa and SANDF Peace Missions

17. Despite the post cold war and post apartheid optimistic view of Africa, the continent is unfortunately still suffering from chronic underdevelopment, poverty, lack of human security and other social ills. This, together with poor governance and the competition for control and exploitation of resources, has led to the proliferation of intra-state conflicts on the Continent. Currently there are 11 UN and African peace missions in 12 African countries. These are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Western Sahara. Most of these peace operations are directed at solving internal disputes fired on by poor governance, warlords and rebel groups motivated by ethnic or religious disputes, the control and exploitation of resources and/or political adventurism. These conflicts also lead to overflows into neighbouring states as is evidenced in West Africa, the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa. This high level of instability and conflict, coupled to the general state of underdevelopment on the Continent, creates a vast potential breeding ground for polarisation, the rise of warlords, rogue regimes, terrorism, and crime. It could also create conditions favourable for international terrorists to operate from against other parts of the world. If this is not contained, the potential for unilateral external interventions will become very real.

18. In support of South African, AU and international efforts at conflict prevention and management, the SANDF has become increasingly engaged in peace support operations on the continent. At present the SANDF has about 3 000 soldiers deployed in these conflict areas in Africa with a demand for more. The major deployments are in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo with an increasing involvement in Sudan. The SANDF is not well equipped for these types of operations as its force design is predicated on short logistic lines for highly mechanized mobile forces prepared to fight in defence of the territorial integrity of the country and not for out of area force projection and support in distant places.

Africa’s Developing Collective Security Architecture

19. Africa is rapidly moving towards becoming a collective security community. At continental level the African Union has accepted the Common African Defence and Security Policy (CADSP), which acknowledges that "each African country’s defence is inextricably linked to that of other African countries, as well as that of other regions and, by the same token, that of the African continent as a whole." One of the building blocks of the CADSP is the African Standby Force (ASF), which is mandated by the Protocol of the Peace and Security Council of the AU. The concept of the African Standby Force is based on standby brigades to be provided by the five African sub-regions. These brigades will be established in two phases, to be completed by the year 2010 with the attendant strengthening of capabilities at both the AU and regional levels. The ASF will have military, police and civilian components and will operate on the basis of various scenarios under African Union mandates, ranging from observer missions to peacekeeping operations and intervention in conformity with the Constitutive Act of the AU.

20. At sub-regional level, SADC has made great progress on issues of collective defence and security. This manifests itself through the Organ for Politics, Defence and Security (OPDS) and its substructure, the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC). Furthermore, through these structures, all SADC countries have agreed to a Mutual Defence Pact and are working on the modalities of the SADC regional brigade as an element of the African Standby Force. Operationalising and strengthening these regional and sub-regional mechanisms will undoubtedly contribute greatly towards providing the wherewithal to collectively combat the threats to African peace and security.

21. These developments are heavily premised on political integration and cooperation on the continent and the sub-regions as is evidenced in the AU and NEPAD. They, however, also require that African defence forces should be built around the concepts of ‘confidence-building defence’ (also known as non-offensive of non-provocative defence) as well as those of confidence and security building measures. Present South African defence policy stresses the need for confidence and security building measures but the approved force design is not well aligned to these principles. The Defence Review did present one option based on the principles of non-offensive defence but in the conclusion of Chapter 8 stated "[This] option involves major deviations from present capabilities and doctrine, and will require more study before it can be recommended. If future tendencies are in this direction [the selected] option 1 will be an acceptable base for such development". The developments in Africa are clearly leading in the direction of collective defence and demand more consideration of the principles of confidence-building defence in revisiting the Defence Review.

The Internal Crime Situation in South Africa

22. Despite the stated policy that the SANDF should disengage from the ongoing policing role, the pressures placed on the SAPS by the high crime rate in South Africa, has kept the SANDF involved in support to the Police. Last year the SANDF had an average of around 3000 soldiers deployed on operations INTEXO (borer-line control) and STIPPER (rural protection) on an ongoing basis. Currently the SANDF has started disengaging from such support and has also announced the phasing out of the commando system (the territorial reserves of the SANDF). This has led to many concerns about the capability of the SAPS to be able to cope with the more organised and militarised forms of crime and the feasibility of the replacement of the commando system by an as yet undefined policing system.


23. As stated earlier on in this submission, the realisation of the Defence Review force design was premised on the attainment of efficiency improvements within the Department of Defence (DOD). To quote from the Review "The process further assumes that the current imbalance in the so-called tooth-to-tail ratio of the SANDF will be corrected by the transformation process, thus releasing a greater portion of the budget for combat capabilities. The ratio on which the calculations are based is an estimate of the anticipated result of transformation". Unfortunately there is very little evidence of such efficiency improvements in the DOD. In fact, the ration of management and support staff to operational soldiers seems to have increased. The creation of the Defence Secretariat alongside the Defence Headquarter has grown the size of the strategic management component of the DOD. The SANDF also suffers from rank inflation as is evidenced by the high ratio of general officers to the total complement of the SANDF, a ratio of around 1 to 300. This ratio in defence forces in the first world countries will tend to 1 general to every 1500 to 2000 soldiers. Despite the SANDF being significantly smaller than the old SADF, there is no indication of a reduction in the size of headquarters, training establishments and support bases and infrastructure.

24. The lack of such efficiency improvements during transformation have perpetuated the poor tooth-to tail ration of the SANDF and prevented the flow of money from management and supportive functions to the development, preparation and employment of the force. This has been aggravated by the absence of an approved retrenchment instrument to right-size the SANDF, the strategic acquisition packages and the expenditure on internal and external operations. The above factors have led to a reduction in the operating budget (goods and services) of the SANDF to 21% of the budget (up to the 2004/05 cycle of the MTEF this was below 20%). Operating expenditure represents the portion of the DOD budget spent on day-to-day running of the defence force, maintaining equipment and infrastructure, developing and preparing personnel, and administering the force. This includes spares and tools, fuel and lubricants, training munitions, uniforms, rations, communications, IT, and stationary amongst others. This figure should not include the cost of actual operations, as this should be covered from national (treasury) contingent funds. Unfortunately a significant proportion of SANDF operations are also funded from this part of the budget. The benchmark figure for operating expenditure (excluding actual operational deployments) is 30%, well above the current DOD level. This has led to restrictions in the maintenance of infrastructure and equipment, training and force preparation and general support to the force.

The Part-Time Component of the SANDF

25. Another area in which little progress was made in the transformation process was the development of the part-time component of the SANDF. The White Paper and Defence Review argued for a defence force based on the one-force concept comprised of "a relatively small Regular Force and a sufficiently large Part Time Force". The part-time component would in turn consist of the conventional units (citizen force) and territorial units (citizen force and commandos). It was foreseen that the part-time component (PTC) would be ‘an integral and essential part of the SANDF’. During mobilisation or times of war, it would be required to provide substantial numbers towards the personnel component of the defence force.

26. In reality, the part-time component of the SANDF has been severely neglected and is today nearly non-existent. The conventional reserve has not been trained at an operational level for some years and no new blood is flowing into the system. It has few fully trained troops, has a grossly over-age leadership corps and has not participated in large-scale field training exercises in many years. There is, however, still a core around which an effective reserve force could be rebuilt, but as things stand now, there is no viable reserve force to back up the regular force. The one exception is the territorial reserve, the former commandos, which still has reasonable strength levels and proficiency, but which is not trained for a conventional role and is in any event being phased out. This leaves a strategic gap in the design of the SANDF especially as regards rear area protection in times of conflict and crisis. The role of the part-time component will become even more crucial if the defence posture of South Africa moves further in the direction of confidence building defence.

The Strategic Defence Acquisition Packages

27. Since completion of the Defence Review, the SA Government and the DOD has embarked on an ambitious project to replace obsolescent equipment in the SANDF force design with new acquisitions through the so-called ‘Strategic Defence Package’ deal. It provides for the acquisition of four corvettes, three submarines, 30 light-utility helicopters, 24 lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft, and 28 fighter aircraft.

28. These acquisitions are aligned with the force design of the Defence Review but it can be argued that they did not take cognisance of real priorities and the trend in the defence budget and expenditure. They favour the Air Force and Navy above the Army whilst it is the Army that is at the forefront of deployments into Africa. They also tie the defence budget down to a high percentage expenditure on capital equipment whilst the operating budget for force development, force preparation and force employment is shrinking. This has led to many problems of the maintenance of standards and the general deterioration in the preparedness of the SANDF.


29. The White Paper on Defence and the Defence Review were important steps in establishing the rationale for defence in the ‘new South Africa’ and contributed greatly to the stability in the SANDF and as such in South Africa post 1998. The inclusive and transparent processes through which they were evolved did much to build the legitimacy of the post-apartheid military in South Africa. The White Paper and Review provided direction, allowed for a common vision for the SANDF and determined the basis for the transformation of the SANDF in a democratic society. Without these policy documents, the SANDF would not have been able to achieve the levels of success that it has done in the fields of peace support operations, support to the police and support to civil society in general. Despite this, certain assumptions on which they were formulated and certain conclusions that were drawn are out of step with reality and need to be revisited. In the light of the analysis of these assumptions and conclusions as contained in this submission, the Institute for Security Studies wishes to make the following four policy recommendations to the Portfolio Committee of Defence:

Recommendation 1: To revisit the definition of the primary function of the SANDF

30. As has been argued, the primary function of the SANDF was very narrowly defined in the White Paper on Defence as ‘defence against external military aggression’. This definition has also strongly influenced the force design of the SANDF and has led to an over-emphasis on conventional capabilities and a lack of provision for the important functions that the SANDF is executing in peace support operations in Africa and will be required to execute in support of the collective defence and security mechanisms on the Continent.

31. It is therefore submitted that the primary function of the SANDF should be redefined to include the following tasks:

  1. The provision of credibility to government's diplomatic initiatives;
  2. The provision of capabilities for peace support operations;
  3. The provision of capabilities for military diplomacy and contributing to collective defence in Africa in line with the Common African Defence and Security Policy; and
  4. The provision of military deterrence through credible operational capabilities.

32. The primary function of the SANDF can be postulated to be "To act as an instrument for Government in conflict prevention and conflict intervention".

33. It is recommended that the definition of the primary function of the SANDF be revisited and brought into line with current realities and demands.

Recommendation 2: To initiate in depth studies on the applicability and feasibility of the principles and concepts of confidence building defence for South Africa

34. Current South African defence policy includes certain elements of the concepts of confidence building defence (also known as non-provocative defence or non-offensive defence (NOD)). At the time of the development of the Defence Review, consideration was given to a more substantial NOD posture, but as stated in the Defence Review this option involved major deviations from present capabilities and doctrine, and would require more study before it could be recommended.

35. It is submitted that the developments in Africa and the SADC sub-region regarding collective defence and security measures and mechanisms call for a re-evaluation of the applicability of these concepts for the SANDF.

36. It is therefore recommended that consideration be given to include studies on confidence building defence in the current review process.

Recommendation 3: To initiate a re-consideration of the role of the part-time component of the SANDF including the territorial reserves (commandos)

37. Part-time forces are an important component of a defence force designed around the principles of confidence building defence as well as for improved efficiency in defence spending. They allow for the maintenance of a relatively small regular force during times of peace and stability and the rapid expansion of such a regular force in times of crisis and conflict. Limiting the size of the regular force acts as an important confidence and security building measure. The existence of a territorial reserve (such as the Commandos) is one of the most crucial elements in the concept of a defence force built on the principles of NOD. The present and emerging threats to South Africa and the region come more from the areas of terrorism, warlordism, rebel groups, piracy and other forms of organised crime. Territorial reserves provide essential early warning and quick reaction to such threats. They are also the mainstay of the SANDF for reacting to emergencies and disasters as well as in the maintenance of essential services during such emergencies.

38. It is therefore recommended that the Cabinet decision to phase out the territorial reserves of the SANDF be revisited.

Recommendation 4: To initiate studies for efficiency improvements in the DOD

39. As has been stated, there is concern about the internal efficiencies of the DOD when considering present tooth-to-tail ratios and management and support structures. When comparing the envisaged organisational transformation of the DOD as stipulated in Chapter 9 of the Defence review with current realities, there would seem to be significant deviations. The present structure and organisation of the Defence Secretariat and the Defence Headquarters seem to have moved away from the concept of an "Integrated Head Office" and there is little evidence of the reduction in bases and support infrastructure as envisaged in the Review. The top-heaviness in term of the generals (directors and above) seems difficult to justify.

40. It is therefore recommended that an independent investigation into efficiency improvements in the DOD be initiated.


41. The redefinition of the primary function of the SANDF and any changes to defence doctrine will automatically require a redefinition of the force design of the SANDF. Defence against external military aggression implies a conventional focus on equipment, operations close to and around ones own borders, internal lines of communication and relative proximity of support structures. Peace missions and other operations in compliance with international obligations as well as the provision of elements to contribute to the African Standby Force, on the other hand, have different demands. These include:

  1. Protracted deployments over vast distances;
  2. High mobility and air and sea transportability;
  3. Long range logistics support;
  4. Interoperability with other national forces; and
  5. Flexibility for operations in different geographic area, climates and terrain.

42. The emphasis, therefore, shifts from heavy ground mobile forces to light air and sea mobile forces.

43. Currently the SANDF is designed around the requirements of a mobile conventional force and the new acquisitions strengthen those capabilities. It is obvious that this cannot be changed overnight. There is a large degree of flexibility in the present design and some level of compatibility with the new and emerging demands. The major issue facing the SANDF in the short-term is therefore not a total redesign but rather adapting the use of what it has in terms of force development and force preparation for optimal support to peace support operations in Africa and the development of the African Standby Force. In this context it is submitted that the SANDF should utilise its strengths optimally in support of its crucial roles in Africa.


44. In the short-term it is important to:

  1. Reprioritise the force development and force preparation of the SANDF towards its crucial role in Africa;
  2. Ensure the maximum efficiency in the expenditure of the defence budget; and
  3. Ensure alignment of the defence budget with policy.

45. In the longer-term the results of this review process should directly inform the future force design of the SANDF and any future defence acquisitions.