The Reserve Force welcomed 135 new junior officers to its ranks with by far the majority coming through its University Reserve Training Programme (URTP).
A hundred and twelve of these about to be commissioned as lieutenants are in the SA Army Reserve Force and three are SA Navy who will carry the rank sub-lieutenant. The remaining newly minted officers are 11 from the part-time ranks of the Armour Formation with the last nine earning their commissions through other courses.
A Reserve Force statement has it that the concept of voluntary part-time military training for registered students at academic institutions is a recognised practice in a number of countries. The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) followed suit in 2005 when the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) launched a pilot programme in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to recruit talented young South African under-and post-graduates for training and appointment as junior officers.
Results achieved in the pilot programme saw the Military Command Council approved further development of the URTP and roll-out to the Air Force, Army and Navy in 2008.
The landward force led the way with 60 students from the University of Free State and the Central University of Technology selected in 2011. The Air Force and Navy followed a year later with students from six other high education institutions signing up for the URTP.
“URTP is done in a modularised manner during university holidays, recess periods and over certain weekends. Training periods are planned to not interfere in students’ and their institutions’ academic programme. Basic Military Training (BMT) must be successfully completed before the student can be accepted for Officers Formative Course. On successful completion of this course, depending on specific service and the outcomes of a selection board, the URTP Reserve Force personnel become eligible for promotion to the rank of lieutenant,” a Reserve Force statement said.
Since 2011, 316 students enlisted in the Reserves to do military training during university vacations.