Number of SANDF Reserve Force mandays to drop

The number of Reserve Force mandays utilised by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is set to drop over the next few years. This is according to the Department of Defence’s (DoD’s) 2017 Annual Performance Plan, which states that 1.817 million mandays are scheduled for 2017/18, dropping to 1.571 million in 2018/19 and climbing slightly to 1.692 million in 2019/20. This is a major decrease from 2.701 million in 2016/17 and 2.768 million in 2015/16. “The Performance Indicator target for the FY2017/18 indicated a reduction in the number of reserve force mandays utilised due to the reduction in the HR [human resources] budget allocation to the department,” the report stated. This is due to the reduction of the compensation of employees ceiling by R1.897 billion for the 2017/18 financial year, R2.912 billion for 2018/19 and R4.809 billion for 2019/20. The DoD notes this “may have an adverse impact on the ability of the DoD to achieve its Constitutional mandate and the security of the country.” However, it stated that “the DoD is not in a position to reduce members due to the absence of a viable exit mechanism to exit those members no longer meeting the operational profile of the SANDF. The Commander-in-Chief has also not reduced the operational commitments of the SANDF and therefore the SANDF cannot withdraw from its ordered commitments without Cabinet approval. The DoD will continue maintaining an average strength of 77 500 and Reserve Force mandays of 2 700 000 to execute its mandate throughout the 2017 MTEF [five-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework].” Earlier this year Major General Roy Andersen, Chief Defence Reserves, warned that significant cuts in man days for the country’s part-time soldiers could impact negatively on the national border protection tasking Operation Corona. Reserve Force units make up a significant portion of the 15 companies deployed on border protection and are seen an integral component to the success of the one force projection and employment ethos the SANDF adheres to. According to the Department of Defence (DoD) the strength of the Reserve Force across all four services currently stands at around 23 000 uniformed personnel. When measured against the overall employment number of the SANDF and the DoD of around 89 000, it makes up just over 25% but enjoys the status of an equal partner in the one force concept the Defence Ministry and SANDF command structure has adopted. According to the 2017 Annual Performance Plan, the number of military skills development (MSD) members is also scheduled to drop, from 4 001 in 2017/18 to 3 545 in 2018/19 and 3 696 in 2019/20. This compares to 7 005 in 2013/14; 3 889 in 2014/15 and 3 944 in 2015/16. Flying hours and hours spent at sea for the SANDF will remain the same over the next three years (5 000 force employment hours a year scheduled for 2017/18 to 2019/20 and 12 000 hours at sea for the same period). Of the flight hours, this includes 1 000 hours for VIP operations and 4 000 hours for “joint force employment requirements subject to resource allocation.”

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