To be part of a winning team takes strength, courage, companionship, pride, sense of belonging, cooperation and most of all self-discipline. Since 2006 Members of the SANDF started participating in the Military Skills Competition and over the past ten years displayed a strength to be reckoned with. Competitive musketry, the level of strength, fitness and a will to win demonstrates that the military training of the SANDF remains at a level to produce combat ready soldiers. Furthermore, after 10 years of local and numerous international competitions the results of participants during the Military Skills Competition 2016 indicate once again that it is an appropriate method to test the level of basic combat readiness. It was remarkable to acknowledge that for the first time the attendance was spread amongst 5 International Countries which included Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom and one boarding country, namely Botswana. Unfortunately Lesotho withdrew from the competition.
The level of swimming is not of a high standard although the regular and newcomers were competitive. Even the musketry scores were satisfactory and in both the obstacle course and combat run, results were vastly improved. The Project Coordinator of the Military Skills Competition, Lt Col Uys van der Westhuizen revealed that the Military Skills Competition 2016 was the most improved competition and created a platform to select newcomers for International participation. During the prize giving ceremony the Chairperson of the Reserve Force Council (RFC), Dr (Col) John Job congratulated all prize winners and inspired those who partook for the first time to continue improving their level of skills. He also thanked one and all who worked behind the scenes for making the competition such a huge success. He concluded his closing address by an open invitation to all Arms of Services to participate in the Military Skills Competition 2017.
The flags of the various countries enlighten the sky on a immaculate looking obstacle course
Address by Dr (Col) John L. Job, Chairman of the RFC
at the conclusion of the National Military Skills Competition at Potchefstroom on 29 October 2016
Deputy Chief of the Army, Maj Gen L Smith,
Chief of Defence Reserves, Maj Gen R Andersen,
Representing GOC Infantry Formation, Brig Gen De Goode,
Brig Gen’s del Monte, Kamffer, Maminza and Molefe,
Military Attache of Botswana, Col Telekekae,
Military Attache of Germany, Cmdr Brand,
General and senior Officers,
Colleagues, Friends and Participants:
I am both pleased and privileged to be here today. However, I have failed in my own quest to sleep over in Potchefstroom, which I try to do each year to remember and commemorate my first night as a soldier on 1 April 1964 in bungalow 247 in the old camp alongside the current obstacle course.
The Military Skills Project has been, and continues to be, a joint venture between the RFC, Reserve Division and the Directorate of Force Preparation of the Army. I wish to acknowledge the excellent cooperation displayed by our partners over the years and also to commend their substantial contributions to the success of the undertaking, especially on this the 10th anniversary of the Competition.
REFLECTIONS ON 2016 INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION
Before continuing. I wish to reflect on the achievements of our SANDF teams which competed in Spain earlier this year at the International Military Skills Competition convened under the auspices of the CIOR:
A total of 26 teams competed. SA Team 1 came 2nd in the Experienced Category and 1st in the Combined Obstacles. SA Team 2 came 4th in the Veteran Category and 3rd in the Combined Obstacles.
These commendable results reflect not only the competitiveness of our soldiers but also the effectiveness of our Project leaders. For years Gen Andersen questioned the value of our participation in the International Competition and whether the SANDF was competitive at that level. The results recorded above convincingly answer this question.
It must also be remembered that our 7 competitors were the remaining members of a squad of 30 chosen at the 2015 SA Competition. So, those of you who aspire to become an international champion have only just begun the journey.
THE 2016 SA MILITARY SKILLS COMPETITION
On the 10th anniversary of our National competition, I am pleased to record that it has been the largest in numbers of competitors as well of teams from other countries.
Participants numbered 152 and International teams were 5 in number – one each from Botswana, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. We are sincerely pleased with this level of involvement.
In addition to the participants, there have been 30 officials involved. SA Participants came from 5 Formations of the Army which was also the only Service represented. We have to strive to get participants from all 4 Services next year.
Of the participants, only 11 were women, another dimension of diversity which needs to be improved into the future.
I must congratulate all the trophy and event winners. It is a wonderful feeling to win which the Americans are wont to say is the only thing that is important. However, I tend to favour the British philosophy which is summed up in the saying “it is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”. So, I extend my congratulations to all participants.
As stated by Maj Gen Smith, the competition tests 5 basic skills which must be part of every soldier’s or serviceman’s skill set. Without these skills, not armed force can expect its members to be effective. I appeal to everyone here today to take back what you have learned to your Regiments and units and to spread your skills throughout the armed force of which you are a member.
First and foremost, I wish to acknowledged the vital and successful role of Lt Col Uys van der Westhuizen, our Project Leader, and his effective impact both in South Africa, but also in the CIOR. Well done; we are all proud of you.
Uys has a great team working with him and I must acknowledge the contributions of each and every one of them. I must single out Captain Ditshego. Not only is he the only person here today who is from the SA Airforce, but he was the captain of the SA teams which did us proud in Spain.
The teams from our friends in the international arena, I thank you for coming all this way to join our competition. I trust that you have found your participation both enjoyable and rewarding and that you will encourage your countries to continue to participate. I also trust that you have had a little time to enjoy our renowned hospitality and that you will return home enriched by the whole experience.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge our joint venture partners in what can only be described as a prime example of what we describe as “the one force concept”. The RFC looks forward to our ongoing partnership and future success.
Notwithstanding the adverse winds that are gaining momentum in the Department of Defence and against which the RFC will strenuously work, we will continue to strive to expand the Competition, especially into the other Services and very particularly the participation of women.
I thank you all.
Dr John Job