The SA Army’s Armour Formation marks its 70th anniversary this month with the fourth Armour symposium and a thanksgiving service at Temple outside Bloemfontein.
More than 200 delegates are attending the two day symposium under the theme of “South African armour in peace and collective security in the region” which was officially opened by SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam.
In his address Yam said the Armour Formation was “a great asset” of the landward force and its ability to take its “shock effect, mobility and firepower to the next level enables it to meet contemporary African battlespace requirements head on”.
He told delegates the formation was part of ensuring the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would never fail in its mandate to defence the country’s territorial integrity and contribute “efficiently” to continental peace and security.
Previous Armour Formation symposia were held in Bloemfontein (2005), Cape Town (2008) and Pretoria in 2011.
As far as the need for armour was concerned Yam said the question was no longer should we have or employ armour but rather when, where, how much and what type?
“It has become clear a narrow-minded conventional warfare approach has become more and more obsolete. The future armour capability will not only have to survive, but thrive in all operational environments, under all circumstances and in all kinds of operations.”
He also told the symposium the armoured corps was leading the way toward a doctrine on combat elements which are a further step towards refining the concept of integrated arms and how South Africa’s military assets are employed to pursue set objectives.
“On the training front the Armour Corps as an integral part of the SA Army is developing scenarios for formal and continuation training including peacekeeping, peace enforcement and asymmetric elements in a complex environment. This will gradually change our mindset from a purely conventional warfare one to include a wider range of operations, including lessons learnt from previous operations.”
Yam also mentioned development of a light armour reconnaissance capability that was being worked on. An Armour Formation insider said this, along with other projects across all four arms of service, were “not likely to happen in the near future because of budgetary constraints”.
The Formation has set out its ethos which states: “What makes armour different is not just its unique role or technology, but its mindset. We proactively, innovatively strive towards excellence. We continuously adapt, develop, renew and find solutions in service of national, strategic and organisational objectives”.
The SA Army Armour Formation comprises its Thaba Tshwane, Gauteng, headquarters with the School of Armour in Tempe, a battalion and eight regiments. They are 1 Special Service Battalion, 1 SA Tank Regiment and the Reserve Force units Natal Mounted Rifles, Umvoti Mounted Rifles, the Light Horse Regiment, Pretoria Regiment, Regiment President Steyn, Regiment Oranjerivier and Regiment Mooirivier.