This is probably my last editorial for 2008. The next will be on 9 January, unless something sufficiently riveting happens to rip us from our holiday torpor. But that’s no reason not to check the web site daily. While we are now officially closing for the Southern Hemisphere’s summer break, we will be offering a limited service over the holidays. I’ll be watching events elsewhere on the continent and at home and do my best to keep you informed when the newspapers go on vacation, as they will those few days between Christmas and New Year.
And there`s our archive of reports and fact files to peruse. There are lots! Also good book reviews-perfect for this time of year. I have always believed a good book is a great gift. I`ve also added some photo files to the gallery. The latest show the commissioning parade of the Navy`s new Maritime Reaction Squadron, the brain child of Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, as well as a demonstration of their prowess at boarding ships.
The MRS, commanded by Capt (SAN) Solly Petersen, a former Marine, certainly impressed. Should the government task the Navy to assist the United Nations fight the scourge of piracy off East Africa, they will be a handy asset – and not likely to disappoint. defenceWeb wishes them well, as we do the Navy`s newly minted ensigns and the SA Air Force`s latest batch of pilots. You all have a daunting job ahead of you and the nation behind you.
defenceWeb will resume “full service” on 5 January. In the meantime, may you rest well, drive safely and enjoy a merry Christmas and may you have a prosperous New Year.
2009 will certainly be busy. Pirates of the Gulf of Aden aside, top-of-agenda is government`s plan to wind up the SANDF`s seven year peace mission in Burundi from next month. South Africa deployed troops there almost on the spur of the moment in October 2001 to bolster a peace accord the then recently retired President Nelson Mandela had mediated. It was our first peacekeeping mission.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is not so sure peace has broken out, but now may be a good time to declare victory and leave. SA carried the initial costs of the operation, and no doubt still foots the bill. It is time for Burundians to solve Burundi`s problems by dialogue, not violence. Let`s wish them well and gracefully bow out. But I digress.
From a security point-of-view, the focus will certainly be on this June`s FIFA Confederations Cup and further preparations for the World Cup. Any number of exercises is scheduled over the next few months, starting with the Gauteng edition of Exercise Shield – the interdepartmental World Cup readiness exercise that includes both the police and the military.
Changes in the Army`s force preparation – the extension of basic training to 20 weeks – means two annual highlights, exercises Seboka and Young Eagle, fall away next year. Young Eagle is scheduled for February 2010 and no date has yet been given for Seboka. The highlight of the year – for the SA National Defence Force – will likely be Exercise Golfinho, the first-ever SADCBRIG (Southern African Development Community Brigade) exercise and the first major regional training event since Exercise Blue Crane in 1999.
A full calendar of known 2009 events will be posted on defenceWeb shortly. If we`ve missed anything – and we certainly have – let us have the detail.
In the meantime, have a fantastic holiday