Andersen stands down as Chief Defence Reserves

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The most senior officer in the Reserve Force component of the national defence force, two-star general Roy Andersen’s standing down was marked in true artillery tradition (he is a gunner through and through) with a farewell shoot at the Salvokop Green Magazine in Pretoria this week.

All told the man who first donned a uniform as a national serviceman at what was 4 Field Regiment in January 1966 spent 55 years in the South African military. Thirty-two of these were in various posts in the Reserve Force.

This week’s farewell shoot at Salvokop was pure artillery tradition at the end of which Andersen was praised by Reserve Force colleagues and comrades for “illustrious service to his regiment (the then Transvaal Horse Artillery), the defence force (both SADF and SANDF) and the nation”. His contributions were the subject of tributes by senior officers from Defence Reserves and the SA Army Artillery Formation.

Reflecting on his time as a soldier, Andersen told defenceWeb his most satisfying experience as Chief Defence Reserves was the deployment and extensive use made of South Africa’s part-time soldiers during Operation Notlela, the military component of government’s national state of disaster in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many companies deployed within 24 hours of being called up,” he said, adding, “During the 2020/21 financial year about 15 000 Reserves did duty for a total of 3.35 million days. This was by far a record and confirms the utility and importance of a Reserve Force”.

Andersen further singled out the “key role” of Reserve Force elements in Operation Corona, the national border protection tasking, as well as what he said was “a recent decision” to “again” deploy Reserves externally – “this augurs well for the future”.

As with all defence-related issues, funding often over-rides what should happen and the soon-to-be civilian expressed the hope continuous budget cuts will not inhibit the important work Reserves do.

On the future of the Reserve Force, Andersen “trusts” funds will be made available for new intakes to revitalise the force and lower the average age of members.

Andersen is a Johannesburger through and through, born in South Africa’s economic hub in May 1948 and matriculating from Northview High School in 1965.

Called up by the then government he commenced his national service at 4 Field Regiment in January 1966. After completing basic military training, he attended a junior leader officer course at the School of Artillery, finishing third in his class. He then transferred to 14 Field Regiment in Bethlehem as an officer.

In September 1966 he was posted to Transvaal Horse Artillery (THA) and passed through the officer ranks coming first on both his captains’ and majors’ courses. He rose to rank of Commandant in 1976 when he was appointed as Officer Commanding finishing top on his unit commanders’ course.

Andersen saw active service in the then South West Africa (now Namibia)/Angola, including participation in Operation Savannah as regimental 2IC and operating as an Air OP. He later commanded THA in South West in an infantry role. He transferred to 7 Division as SSO Artillery as a colonel in January 1980. He completed the SA Army Modular Senior Command and Staff Duties Course in 1984 and was appointed SSO Operations of 7 Infantry Division.

In 1989 he transferred to the staff of Chief of the Army as Director Army Reserves and promoted to Brigadier. Andersen was subsequently promoted to major general on 1 October 2003, in the post of Chief Defence Reserves at Defence Headquarters, a position he held until retirement. He served as Honorary Colonel of THA (now Sandfontein Artillery Regiment) for 29 years from 1 March, 1990.

He was and is active in military veterans’ affairs having been national chairman of the Gunners’ Association and the Council of Military Veterans’ Organisations (CMVO) and is an honorary life vice-president of both organisations.  He was appointed National President of the Gunners’ Association on 7 May 2021.

In his business career, Andersen became a Chartered Accountant (South Africa) in 1972 after studying at the University of the Witwatersrand and Certified Public Accountant (Texas) in 1974.

Positions he held include Chairman and Senior Partner of Ernst & Young, President of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and CEO of Liberty Life. He has been a director of SA Breweries, Standard Bank, Aspen Pharmacare and Nampak as well as chairman of Sanlam, Murray & Roberts, Sasfin Holdings and Virgin Active South Africa.

Andersen was awarded the Commander of the Star of South Africa (CSSA), Southern Cross Decoration (SD) with Bar, Southern Cross Medal (SM), Military Merit Medal (MMM), Pro Patria Medal with the Cunene Clasp, General Service Medal, Unitas Medal, Mandela Commemoration Medal in Silver, 50 years’ Service Medal, Medalje vir Troue Diens with 40 years Bar, John Chard Decoration (JCD) with 30 years Clasp, John Chard Medal as well as the Nelson Mandela Medal, Bronze.

Speaking on the eve of his retirement Andersen said he was and will always be “a proud Reserve Force member. It was an honour and a privilege.”

Despite being asked the SANDF Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) has not replied on Anderson’s successor as the most senior Reserve Force officer. An earlier request to DCC as regards Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer’s successor as Director: Army Reserves also remains unanswered.