The warning lights have been flashing and the alarm bells have been sounding for so long it appears they have become part of the background noise to the detriment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and at the same time show there appears to be no real interest in or care for those who are sometimes disparagingly called the “uniformed public service”.
The latest in a long line of examples comes from a recent briefing to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence by the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF.
Maybe if the briefing officer had not used the word “challenges” when pointing out some of the problems facing the country’s military masters as they go about preparing a force to be the spearhead of the President Jacob Zuma-led initiative, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), it might have struck home.
The committee was told amongst other things of “very limited ammunition stocks”, a complete lack of some for unspecified weapons systems and “very limited aircrew and support for helicopters” in the ACIRC. However, this did not strike any sympathetic chord among committee members. No-one wanted to know why or how matters had been allowed to reach this stage. Questions that were asked related to the terrain and climate ACIRC troops would have to operate in and the possibility of obtaining suitable equipment from other African countries to overcome transport problems.
It was also pointed out that the SANDF does not have the airlift capacity to meet the demands of a deployment such as ACIRC.
The most obvious way of overcoming these “challenges”, as the military have taken to calling their headaches, is by additional funding. This will pave the way for – hopefully – the right equipment to be acquired to do the job properly and also to attract the right calibre of person to volunteer for military service.
Sadly, given the rate at which the definitive Defence Review process is moving this is not going to happen soon, putting paid to the “immediate response” that is an integral part of ACIRC’s title and its task.
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