According to the latest South Africa Yearbook, the SA Army provides a reaction force for deployment by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke. This might be so on paper, military analyst Helmoed Heitman noted wryly.
“The designated unit is essentially 1 Parachute Battalion with Special Forces the first stop and the airborne soldiers to follow. But the SANDF has taken to deploying 1 Para for routine peace support operations, leaving no reaction force that I can see,” he said.
The Yearbook, produced by GCIS (Government Communications and Information System), also points out the force employment programme of the SANDF provides and employs defence capabilities “including an operational capability, to conduct all operations as well as joint, inter-departmental and multi-national military exercises”.
The programme further, again according to the Yearbook, ensures successful joint force employment by providing and employing a special operations capability in accordance with national requirements; ensuring full participation in peace missions as instructed by the President and conducting operations to protect South Africa’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, support other government departments and comply with international obligations.
“In pursuance of the national safety and security objectives of government, the force employment programme ensured the safeguarding of South Africa and its people against a wide range of threats, many of which were non-military in nature.
“The joint military capabilities were employed in an inter-departmental, inter-agency and/or multi-national regional manner that maintained and ensured a condition of peace, safety, security and stability in a continuous and non-interruptive manner,” according to the Yearbook.
As far as peace support operations are concerned, the Yearbook notes the SANDF’s role in these “necessitates the enhancement of SANDF peacekeeping capability that includes the force’s forward deployment capability”.
It also points out the SANDF was at the forefront of creating the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) as an interim measure towards establishing the African Standby Force (ASF).
South Africa headed up the ACIRC from July 2015 to June 2016, with Angola’s term between July and December 2016. ACIRC members include Angola, South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Chad and Uganda.
A report by the SANDF’s Joint Operations Division told Parliament last year that South Africa has committed resources to the ACIRC that include a pair of tactical UAVs, a motorised infantry battalion, an artillery battery, a Rooikat squadron, an engineer troop and a signals squadron, two Rooivalk combat support helicopters, two A109 light utility helicopters, two Oryx medium transport helicopters, a pair a C-130BZ medium lift aircraft, and air ambulances in the form of C-130, PC-12 and Citation aircraft.
The SA Navy will commit five patrol boats with the necessary support and the SA Military Health Service will supply field ambulances and a fully equipped medical post with the Military Police adding a platoon for law enforcement.
All told, the SANDF contribution to the ACIRC will total 2 411 personnel.