Sisulu promises more money for Reserve Force
Written by defenceWeb, Friday, 17 February 2012
“I pledge…as we restructure the budget, I will give you more money,” Sisulu told Reserve Force leaders. Reservist salaries have already increased 22% to bring them up to par with regular service members. SANDF salaries went up by 65% in July 2010.
The Defence Reserve Division is holding a three-day Reserve Force Strategic Work Session, which will conclude tomorrow. The workshop is being hosted by Major General Roy Andersen, the chief of the SANDF Reserve Force. Sisulu said she wanted to be present at the session and that, “perhaps we should have had this strategic workshop a long time ago.”
The aim of the workshop is to develop a sustainable plan to accelerate the revitalisation of the SANDF Reserve Force and to enhance the contribution of this component to the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Department of Defence (DOD). Andersen noted that the Military Command Council had approved a Reserve Revitalisation Plan, but that was only “subject to funding”.
Transforming and revitalising the Reserves is a ministerial priority and was confirmed in the Defence Budget Vote debate during March 2011.
At the moment there are 26 147 reservists, but only 15 000 have been called up. Of the 26 000 reservists, 85% are non-white and only 19% are female, but the force is trying to decrease the gender gap. 14 700 new recruits are expected to be added to the force in 2011/2012. Since 2005 the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) has produced 4 656 reservists, which is considered to be too few.
The conference highlighted the achievements of the Reserves, including the deployment of 25 companies (3 400 soldiers) on Peace Support Operations (PSOs), notably in Burundi and Sudan; in safeguarding the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe; and in supporting internal operations, such as during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and xenophobic riots.
With reference to peacekeeping operations, Sisulu said that pace is not the absence of war but a chance for democracy and a better life. She emphasised that after peace has been declared following peacekeeping operations, “we’d like to be part of the reconstruction of that country,” with the reserve force playing a role in such a situation.
The SANDF in July last year began a pilot project to train university students. Starting in the Free State, 60 recruits underwent basic military training, which was completed in January this year. The SANDF is looking to recruit 80 students in the Western Cape for 2012’s intake as part of the University Reserve Training Programme.
The Reserve Force faces a number of challenges, the most significant of which is funding and Andersen warned that the ministerial priority of revitalising the Reserves would not be achieved without additional funds.
Other issues are that the majority of Reserves are unemployed in civil life and that “training of reserve members is woefully inadequate,” according to Colonel E L Carton-Barber. “We need a dynamic reserve, balanced and deployable,” Carton-Barber said. “The reserve should be as capable as the regular force.”
Guests from several defence forces also participated in the workshop, including those from the United Kingdom, the United States and Tanzania.
In particular, Major General Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York, and Brigadier General Renwick Payne, the director of joint staff for the New York National Guard, represented the United States military.
The two New York National Guard officers were invited due to the New York National Guard’s experience in responding to domestic emergencies and assisting with homeland security issues.
“We’re happy to provide any information and assistance we can to our partners in the South African Reserve forces,” Murphy said. “Through the National Guard’s State Partnership Programme the New York National Guard has had a vital and energetic relationship with the South African military since 2005 that is beneficial to both our countries.”
In December 2010, the New York National Guard hosted Andersen and his staff to a three-day visit in which the South African reservists learned about how the National Guard operates and visited Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.
Since New York partnered with South Africa in 2003, the New York National Guard has hosted South African officers and non-commissioned at training events and sent National Guard officers, soldiers and airmen to South Africa on training exchanges, to participate in military skills competitions, and taken part in South African air shows with both Army and Air National Guard aircraft.
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