defenceWeb 2011

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It is the end of another busy year and defenceWeb will be taking a break from daily publishing from today. Major breaking stories aside, we will resume on Monday, January 3. Happy holidays and a prosperous New Year to us all!

The Yuletide is also the end of a second full calendar year for defenceWeb, making us 27 months old. And thanks to you, dear readers, it has been a satisfying and profitable time. Thanks to your patronage and word the consequent “word of mouth” as well as “word of mouse”, we have seen spectacular growth in that period, going from an audited 3305 unique readers in January 2009 to a spectacular 32 242 for last month. Roughly, this is 1000% growth over that period. Page impressions have grown from 17 000 to 81 000 over the same period.

Allow me to remind that defenceWeb was established in September 2008 to provide defence and security professionals as well as interested specialists an accurate, timely and dependable source for African news, information, research and insight. Our focus audience remains you, the key opinion-former and decision-maker in Parliament, the executive, officialdom, the military, industry, academia, the media and the broader public.
defenceWeb was, in part, inspired by the words of an Australian defence minister who some years ago said: “There is no area where public understanding and informed debate is more important. Yet there is not a lot of that debate in the community… There is even less debate on what the public is prepared to pay for defence.” This is certainly also the case in South Africa where less than four cents of every Rand government spends goes to national defence and where the defence ministry is keen to push up the budget to 2% of Gross Domestic Product.

Looking forward into 2011, we will redouble our efforts to be and remain your preferred provider of news, views and research on African security and military matters, by offering up-to-date news, topical opinion, insight, detailed fact files and accurate tender data. We started small but plan to gradually expand our offering through a series of pre-planned product improvements. Our initial focus was on South Africa. We are now seeking to become authoritative on southern Africa and plan to be a reference within five years on sub-Saharan Africa and within ten on all Africa. We trust you will support us on that journey.
Portal revamp

We will in January be making some changes to the portals, merging some and creating a few new ones for your reading pleasure. The new organisation will be as follows:

Aerospace: A focus on military and civil aviation and space exploration/exploitation. Currently our most popular portal.
Border Security: A focus on border control.
Civil Security: A focus on policing, disaster management, crowd control and civil disturbance.
Diplomacy, Peace Operations & Conflict Resolution [ex Multi-national & Inter Agency]: A focus on war, armed conflict, peacekeeping, peace operations, conflict resolution, security sector reform, post-conflict reconstruction and demobilisation, disarmament and re-integration of former combatants.
Governance: A focus on global, regional and local policy and political issues affecting defence, aerospace and security; with an emphasis on the United Nations, African Union, Southern African Development Community and South African government. Our “number five” portal.
ICT: A focus on command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance technology, techniques & procedures.
Human Security: A focus on human development indicators and the causes of conflict.
Industry: A focus on the defence industry and issues affecting it. Our “number four” portal.
Land: A focus on ground warfare technology and issues. Our third most popular portal.
Logistics: A focus on the art & science of logistics. Also the place to keep track of SANDF tenders and contracts.
Military Art & Science [ex Operations & Exercise]: A focus on military art and science, presently a lacuna on defenceWeb. The perfect place for in-depth articles on strategy, tactics and tactical organisation. We
National Security: A focus on intelligence, threats to Constitutional democracy and insurgency.
Parliamentary Questions: A focus on Parliamentary Questions, speeches and statements pertinent to defence, aerospace and security.
People: Shut down, merge content with “human security”.
SANDF: A focus on the South African National Defence Force and the South African Department of Defence & Military Veterans. Our sixth-most popular portal in terms of reader “hits”.
Science & Technology: New. A focus on science and emerging technology with defence, aerospace and security application.
Sea: A focus on naval affairs and developments, including piracy and maritime security. Presently our second-most popular portal.
 
We will also be refreshing the supporting portals. Expect lots more photographs in the Gallery and a revamp of the Repository and the Resources pages.
 

Also a reminder that we are on Twitter and that defenceWeb is available in Mobi format, optimised for smart phones. Now you have no reason not to follow defenceWeb anytime and anyplace. And, rather late than never, we will be better utilising Twitter to bring you breaking developments and the like.
Events

Lastly, a further reminder that defenceWeb will be hosting a number of topical conferences next year, starting with a Border Control conference in March. By then it will be nearly a year since the South African National Defence Force returned to the nation’s land borders and almost two since President Jacob Zuma announced the creation of a Border Management Agency (BMA) as a priority: the perfect time to take stock of border developments. We have retained South African Army Colonel David Peddle (Retired), for many years involved in the border environment, as consultant to advise on the content of what will be a very exciting and informative conference.



In May we plan to pay attention to matters maritime and in August revisit peacekeeping. More details in the New Year. Hope to see you there!