At least one SA Army command cadre senior officer appears to have given up on new equipment coming the way of the landward force.
Major General Patrick Dube, General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Infantry Formation, told unit commanders in Kimberley to preserve prime mission equipment and utilise available and specialised capabilities from neighbouring units to assist wherever possible.
Speaking on the second leg of what a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) LinkedIn post called a “continuation visit” to bases and units in the Northern Cape, Dube told soldiers and their commanders to preserve what they have, for which he commended them, with the kicker that “due to budget cuts there will not be anything new”.
Dube’s words to, among others, Army Support Base Kimberley, Northern Cape Signal Unit, Kimberley Regiment, 10 Air Defence Artillery Regiment, Galeshewe Anti-Aircraft Regiment and 3 and 8 SA infantry battalions, are another indicator of the ongoing miserly financial treatment meted out to the SANDF by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and National Treasury.
At the top of the replacement equipment list is the Badger, a new infantry fighting vehicle to replace the home-grown Ratel, now in its 43rd year of service and when unveiled the first wheeled armoured fighting vehicle in the world.
The SA Army and specifically its infantry formation are supposed to be the recipient of 244 Badgers in nine variants. As South Africa’s major defence equipment supplier Denel was selected to manufacture the Badger in conjunction with Finnish defence supplier Patria. The financial problems of the Stare-owned defence and technology enterprise are many and well-documented. As far as the Badger is concerned, Denel Land Systems (DLS) is now more than four years behind schedule with production and – given Denel’s precarious financial situation – there is no indication of when the Infantry Formation will receive the first production Badgers.
Dube told the large SANDF contingent housed in the Northern Cape capital Kimberley much had been achieved in resolving challenges but more needed to be done.
“Some units’ facilities are old and it was heart-warming to see the effort and teamwork shown by personnel in terms of unit cleanliness. It is not done ‘man-alleen’, but takes teamwork, commitment and good leadership,” the two-star general said.
Dube also called on 8 SA Infantry Battalion at its Upington headquarters during his short swing through Northern Cape.
Among its specific achievements Dube noted implementation of a biometric system and commercialised mess telling the unit Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel TA Joseph to share 8 SAI’s best practices with other units.