New army work dress still a way off


New camouflage dress for the SA Army is, according to the communication directorate of the national defence force, still within its research and development phase and nearing maturity for testing through a wearer trial phase.

Just on a year ago – 19 to 23 April 2021 – the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) at an extended army command cadre (EACC) conference in Potchefstroom indicated concept designs were on show.

Among reasons for a new uniform to replace the current camouflage one widely used and accepted as the daily work dress of the landward force were the existing camouflage pattern and design being compromised, old fashioned and “not catering for the African body profile” with “no female design” available.

Officers at the EACC reportedly viewed three camouflage patterns – digital, reduced brown and natural green – one of which be used in “three different uniforms” with all making provision for “female sizes and designs”.

The current state of play, it would appear from an official SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) response to a defenceWeb enquiry, is that R&D is still underway with testing to follow at an as yet unspecified date and length of time.

The response, signed off by Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, reads: “The SA Army uniform improvement project will replace the current camouflage in its entirety. The composition thereof is classified and not open to the public for the purpose of security and to finalise the output of the SA Army uniform improvement project. The registration process for camouflage will be completed by October 2022”.

New headgear, combat and “waxi” boots are also, according to DCC, “within” the R&D phase.

The “waxi” boots referred to go back to the then SA Defence Force (SADF) and the bush war with OSINT stating they were “essentially a standardised field improvisation”.

“Fighting in the bush necessitated long term endurance and bursts of high mobility during close contact. Traditional combat boots provided neither – especially when considering the sweltering heat of Africa,” the Commandostore site states.

“With this in mind, many South African and Rhodesian soldiers opted to wear physical training footwear instead of issued combat boots. This philosophy would eventually give birth to the waxi or ‘half combat’ boot. Halfway between a high-top sneaker and a combat boot, the waxi runs, jumps and flexes like a tennis shoe while delivering the protection and durability of a boot.”

Observations during wearer trials will receive attention in the form of further R&D. “Once complete, the findings will be presented to the Army Council,” the DCC response notes.