CAF expounds on his “free the eagle” vision


Current SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo’s stated intent for the year is to “free the eagle” a reference to the fish eagle which graces the official SAAF badge.

The three-star expounded on where he sees the airborne service of the national defence force going under his command during an interview with journalists from Ad Astra – the official SAAF publication.

His thinking, reported on SA National Defence Force (SANDF) social media, covers combat readiness, financial constraints, the importance of training and the importance of trust between leadership and the ranks.

Captain Tebogo August writes combat readiness across all capabilities – presumably referring to fighter aircraft, helicopters, air lift and general air transport – is a priority for Mbambo. This will be “achieved by benchmarking with air forces in the SA Development Community (SADC) and elsewhere in the international community”.

Mbambo reportedly wants SAAF personnel to “develop a mindset that protects state resources”.

“In as much as members take care of home budgets and care for their households, they must extend the same positive attitude to state resources at the workplace because such resources must be spared for the coming generations. In high trust environments, people show up and do their best work, they gain productive energy, creativity, speed and better results. They align around a common purpose, take calculated risks, support each other and communicate openly and honestly,” Mbambo is reported as saying in an interview.

On the issue of trust Mbambo has it people are a barometer indicating whether leadership is moving in the right way to obtain the organisation’s goals.

“There must be trust between leadership and members because people are the most important asset in any organisation. People cannot do their best work if they doubt others’ intentions or capabilities, the direction or viability of the organisation or, most importantly, if they doubt their own ability to keep up with demands placed on them. This is especially true in today’s environment of complex change and ambiguity when members are asked to do more with less.”

Speaking about the arrival of democracy in South Africa, Mbambo said, “the liberation movement brought about change where everyone is today accepted in the SAAF”. He emphasised “in its recruitment approach the air force has trained more women in South Africa who are today pilots in their own right.” Mbambo further said the SAAF belongs to all people of South Africa, including sons and daughters of peasants from the remotest rural areas of the country.