DoD performance plan not bullish on declining defence budget


Parliamentarians were told there are nine “broad implications” of a declining defence budget when the Department of Defence (DoD) presented its latest annual performance plan to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV).

Among words used to illustrate the situation the national defence force finds itself in are “non-implementation”, “non-compliance”, “inability”, “reduction” and “cancellation”.

Top of the list, according to the PCDMV presentation is non-implementation of the Defence Review 2015 plan to arrest the decline in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). This, the presentation has it, is needed to ensure sustainability of defence capabilities.

Number two concerns the national security strategy and notes non-compliance with it as regards the border safeguarding requirement – Operation Corona – for 22 sub-units (companies) and establishing “a cyber warfare capability”.

An inability to modernise and sustain prime mission equipment (PME) as well as the DoD’s inability to “modernise, digitally transform and secure the organisation and South Africa” are implications three and four.

Defence facilities also come under the inability microscope because they are nor maintained and refurbished leading to further deterioration of among others, bases across the four services, as well as buildings on them.

“Reduction and/or cancellation of formal courses (training) and joint inter-departmental, agency and multi-national exercises adversely impact on safety of troops during deployments and combat readiness,” is listed as implication number seven preceded by an inability to establish “adequate organisational structures and undertake human resource staffing”.

Implication eight goes to what is needed to keep a national defence force going. Again, an inability to maintain set stock levels is cited which leads to outsourcing as a high cost alternative. The presentation specifically names ammunition, rations, pharmaceuticals, medical consumables and spares as problem areas.

Number nine is given as “reduction” in the SDA (Special Defence Account). This, the presentation has it, is a potential loss of sovereign defence industry and litigation on contracted projects.

“In future the DoD may be required to make use of external defence industries at a huge cost. In a situation of war or external aggression, South Africa will not have its own defence industry for weapon, PME and ammunition modernisation and manufacturing”.