Fact file: SAAF mandate, vision & mission

The South African Air Force (SAAF), officially founded on 1 February 1920 with the appointment of Colonel Sir “Pierre” van Ryneveld as Director Air Services, is world’s second-oldest. It is also the second-most senior service in the SA National Defence Force. 
It is about two years younger than the Royal Air Force (1 April 1918) and roughly two months older than the Royal Australian Air Force (31 March 1920).
The SAAF is successor to the South African Aviation Corps (SAAC)[1] established as part of the Active Citizen Force (ACF) of the Union Defence Force (UDF) in terms of the South African Defence Act of 1912.
A prime mover beyond the establishment of the SAAF as a separate Service was then Prime Minister and defence minister, General Jan Smuts, who had played a similar role in the establishment of the RAF while serving in the British War Cabinet during World War One.  
Smuts was an early aviation enthusiast, hence the provision for an Air Corps in the Defence Act that Smuts had drafted as SA`s first defence minister.
He had already sent the Commandant-General of the Citizen Force, Brig Gen Christiaan Beyers to Britain and Europe in August 1912 “to observe and report on the use of aircraft in military operations.”
Beyers was impressed by what he saw and recommended setting up a school of aviation. The government subsequently contracted Cecil Compton Paterson[2] to provide flying training to a select group of ten aviators at his flying school at Alexanderfontein near Kimberley.
What is the mandate of the SAAF?
To provide and manage the air defence capability of the Department of Defence on behalf of the DoD, thereby participating in the service to ensure:
·         The sovereignty and protection of the Republic’s territorial integrity.
·         Compliance with the international obligations of the Republic to international bodies and states. 
In plainer language, the SAAF exists to defend South Africa`s airspace from unfriendly or unauthorised incursion, to support its sister services and to support government`s foreign and domestic policies.
The South African Air Force intends achieving the following ten strategic objectives by 2012:
The South African Air Force intends achieving the following ten strategic objectives by 2012:
Declaration 1
The SA Air Force is able to maintain an affordable and sustainable balance between the structural elements of air power: Equipment, People, Doctrine – each element developed to its full potential and employed with maximum efficiency.
Declaration 2
It can conduct all operations entrusted to it with an exceptional degree of dependability and skill.
Declaration 3
It can afford its force design, sustain all required force preparation and force employment, and maintain high standards of aviation safety.
Declaration 4
It has a rejuvenated, affordable, sustainable, representative and skilled “one force” human resource component, consisting of Regular Force, Reserve Force, Public Service Act Personnel and contracted human resources, which it develops and maintains trough a well-established and comprehensive human resource strategy formulation and planning process.
Declaration 5
It is free of racial stereotypes and gender biases, and offers opportunities for all its members to find self-fulfilment and contribute meaningfully to the creation of air power excellence, and it is free from crime from within its own ranks.
Declaration 6
It has well-developed strategies and plans aimed at the optimum application of air power, and its personnel are proficient in air power fundamentals.
Declaration 7
It has a common, shared Air Force culture and ethical code which promotes unity amongst its members who share a common passion for military aviation.
Declaration 8
It is able to respond efficiently and timeously to national priorities as and when called upon.
Declaration 9
It has successfully integrated all new aircraft systems into the SA Air Force, and can operate them at the intended flying rates with a high degree of operational efficiency.
Declaration 10
It consistently achieves high levels of efficiency and organisational effectiveness through a mature systems management approach.
SAAF Vision 2012 was compiled and published in 2002 as the Air Force’s ten-year strategic plan. As a strategy, it serves as an intellectual construct to link where the SAAF is today with where it wants to be ten years` time in a substantive and concrete manner. In its first three years, Vision 2012 achieved a remarkable level of acceptance at all levels of the Air Force and its long-term objectives have permeated the organisation to the point where even the most junior members are able to relate their daily tasks to the Air Force’s vision.
Once an organisation has adopted a vision to transform itself over an extended period, the question arises of how frequently such a view should be updated to ensure that it remains valid. If it is updated and changed too often, it runs the risk of creating an apathetic attitude in the organisation where some people do nothing but wait for the next update in the hope that their responsibilities will be overtaken. If, on the other hand, the vision is updated too infrequently, it runs the risk of becoming outdated as people stop referring to it in the knowledge that real events have already overtaken much of its contents.
To find a workable solution, the Air Force Board decided to conduct a comprehensive strategic revision of Vision 2012 every third year, or whenever a major strategic event triggers such an update. In alternate years, the validity of the strategy is maintained through a process of technical reviews where the fundamental strategy is assumed to be still valid and the only changes made are at the technical level, such as dates, aircraft numbers (to account for losses) and budget amounts.
2005 marked the first comprehensive update of Vision 2012. The planning process roughly followed the same approach as used for the original version of Vision 2012, namely to first review the current status of the organisation, then define the desired future state of the SA Air Force, perform an in-depth analysis of the strategic environment, compare where it was with where it wanted to be in ten years and, finally, define a planning framework with tasks and responsibilities to ensure that the objectives were achieved. Planning staff in the Air Force Office worked closely with the DoD and the field air force to ensure that the updated strategy was an accurate reflection of the desired future state of the organisation, and that its plan to get there was realistic and achievable.
Explaining SAAF Vision 2012, based on SAAF vision found at http://www.af.mil.za/about_us/vision.html, accessed 18 November 2008.  
“The SAAF provides combat ready air capabilities for the SANDF in service of our country.”[3]
Per Aspera Ad Astra (Through Adversity to the Stars)

[1] For a more complete history of the SAAF see http://www.af.mil.za/about_us/history.html
[2] A reconstruction of the aircraft is on display at the SAAF Museum at AFB Swartkop.
[3] LTG Roelf J Beukes in a briefing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, July 19, 2002. Beukes was CAF at the time