SA Army under strength; personnel cuts needed elsewhere in SANDF - expert
The top structure of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is bloated and positions need to be cut in favour of the Army, which is under strength, according to a defence expert. Defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman notes that “the top structure is bloated with posts and even organisations that serve no detectable purpose other than to provide jobs and cost money.” A significant portion of the defence budget goes towards paying salaries – according to the defence budget for 2016/17, which notes that 57% of the total defence budget of R47.169 billion - just on R27 billion – will go towards “compensation of employees”. There are around 80 000 men and women in uniform and civilian clothing who make up the personnel of the SA National Defence Force, according to the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV). South Africa has one of the highest general troop ratios world-wide, which is expensive and ineffective and impacts on the morale of soldiers, according to former service members, defence analysts and institutions such as Transparency International. Heitman acknowledges this but believes the solution is not the usually presented one of cutting the SANDF personnel strength. “The Army is about 10 000 bodies short of the strength it needs to do what it is supposed to do,” he states, with the Army’s problem lying largely with over-age and over-weight soldiers in junior posts who cannot simply be thrown onto the street, but who block rejuvenation of the combat force.