Intelligence, more specifically a lack of it, as well as unsuitability of current SA Army equipment to deal with civil unrest are two over-riding concerns expressed by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) following oversight visits to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
A 13-page report, adopted by one of two oversight committees tasked with defence, noted a lack of strategic intelligence in both provinces brought into question “the capabilities of the strategic intelligence services and/or platforms for intelligence sharing”. This, the report said, was “because strategic intelligence informs operational and tactical level intelligence, impacting on SANDF operations”.
Also on intelligence, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, the JSCD report has it there was “good co-operation” between police and soldiers “characterised by regular information exchange and establishment of appropriate structures to facilitate information exchange”. This, the committee co-chaired by Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, also noted tactical intelligence operatives in the vanguard of the police protection perimeter reporting back to commanders with what they managed to garner while on patrol and protection work.
The success of future combined national defence force/police operations is, according to the report, dependent on a coherent and capable strategic intelligence capability. “The JSCD recommends appropriate steps be taken to ensure a coherent and capable intelligence capability in South Africa and that structures such as NICOC (National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee) be optimised to ensure adequate intelligence provision for SANDF (SA National Defence Force) missions.”
SANDF Joint Operations told JSCD members military equipment was old, obsolete and “designed for conventional warfare”.
“Peacetime operations bring different challenges and conventional equipment is not best suited to internal operations.
“As an example, smaller vehicles with more manoeuvrability in an urban environment are required. Air assets are also limited and many assets are aged, posing operational limitations as there are insufficient in the SA Air Force (SAAF) for adequate support. Specific reference was made to limited availability of strategic airlift capability caused by a shortage of C-130 transport aircraft. According to Joint Operations, concerns around equipment is a strategic-level one and the national defence is managing to execute Operation Prosper objective with the equipment at hand, despite strategic limitations.”