A welcome boost to SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang’s stated intent of bringing the Air Force Reserve back to life has comes via the Reserve Force’s University Reserve Training Programme (URTP).
He was on hand to present students from engineering faculties at the Gauteng universities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and the Witwatersrand with their basic military training (BMT) certificates in Pretoria recently. The seventeen students were the first air force volunteers to successfully complete the BMT part of their overall training and now carry the rank of Candidate Officer until they finish – and pass – officer formative training for the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
They did the training under the auspices of the SAAF College in Thaba Tshwane over weekends and during university vacations.
The group will start with officer formative training next month in preparation for becoming junior officers in the SAAF.
Msimang said rejuvenation of the SANDF Reserves was a Ministerial priority with the URTP an important component. It aims to enhance the intellectual and leadership capabilities of the Reserve Force across all four arms of service.
Earlier this year the helicopter pilot who now heads up the SAAF said the Air Force Reserve was a major part of the SAAF and he was “addressing the multiple and unforeseen challenges” that have effectively seen it grounded for more than a year.
“I am confident the Reserve squadrons will soon take to the air again, especially with border protection responsibilities now the SAAF’s.
“The SAAF is doing everything possible, within our limited resources, to achieve the important Ministerial priority – rejuvenation of the Reserves. Training and development of the Reserves in the SAAF is primarily aimed at this priority and Reserves are continuously being trained to build a force that is disciplined, capable and ready for deployment,” Msimang told the Reserve Force Volunteer.