MSD recruits shown the ropes ahead of reporting for duty

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Recruitment for next year’s SA National Defence Force (SANDF) military skills development intake closed six months ago with follow-up evaluation and interviews to ensure the right calibre recruit enters the gates of Infantry School and 3 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion for SA Army basic military training (BMT) come next year.

In what appears to be the second MSD evaluation undertaken by the landward force, Polokwane military sports ground became an interview and knowledge exchange forum. Recruits heard from Lieutenant Colonel Lekile Sebogodi (Military Skills Development System Section, but not specified if SA Army or Department of Defence human resources), about what is on offer career-wise in the various formations making up the landward force. Other human resource practitioners, as per SA Army Corporate Communication, detailed formation specific capabilities.

Day one was talking and taking in knowledge in anticipation of choosing a suitable career path for the two-year MSD call-up. Day two was spent on medical assessment, intelligence screening and fingerprinting to ensure only suitable candidates for call-up make it into uniform.

Summing up the two-day forum in the Limpopo provincial capital, Army Corporate Communication reports Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha’s service will “benefit tremendously in achieving its mission of preparing, providing and sustaining combat ready land forces for employment by Chief SANDF (General Rudzani Maphwanya)”.

In May, Infantry Formation and “infantry specialists” were at Personnel Services School in Thaba Tshwane doing a similar introduction and evaluation for Gauteng-based MSD recruits.

Also in May, the SA Navy (SAN) embarked on a nationwide recruitment drive specifically for divers. Over 700 young men and women turned up across nine provinces to try out for 30 available diver posts. The successful candidates will be part of the maritime service’s 2024 MSD intake.

All told, the last MSD intake in 2022 numbered 1 997 with 270 going to the SAN, 227 to the SAAF (SA Air Force) and 150 to SAMHS (SA Military Health Service) and the bulk to the SA Army.

Next year’s MSD intake will be number 20 for the SANDF as one of its contributions to the National Development Plan (NDP) which, among others, seeks to cut unemployment.

There were two intakes of around five thousand a year in the early years of MSD implementation. This dropped to around the two thousand mark once a year.

The MSD system accepts volunteers, now called recruits, into either of the SANDF’s four services for two years. BMT is first up followed by specialist mustering training, dependent on service and then deployment to a division, unit or base.

When the 24 month MSD period is up, a limited number of MSD recruits are offered short-term contracts in the full-time force (usually for 10 years) with the remainder expected to put their military skills to use in the Reserve Force.