At the height of South Africa’s COVID-19 induced lockdown, the landward force showed its mettle by deploying no less than 33, mostly infantry, companies in a 72 hour period.
This fact was used by SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha, to illustrate the important role of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), its services and divisions in operations other than war (OOTW) when he addressed the Junior Command and Staff Duties class of 2021 at the Army College last week.
“As part of Operation Notlela the deployment saw soldiers and their commanders adhere to the mandate of developing and sustaining the ability to generate sufficient numbers of fully trained, multi-purpose, combat-ready forces to meet South Africa’s defence and security objectives,” Mbatha said.
As part of the Chief Joint Operations force employment strategy, the Army is tasked with deployments to safeguard South Africa’s territory, population, resources and vital interests, he said.
A further “employment” of soldiers, the word used by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, wraps up a seven week tasking on Sunday (31 January). In addition to ensuring the Western Cape beach use ban imposed as part of adjusted level three lockdown, over two thousand soldiers from Reserve Force unit, General Jan Smuts Regiment, also assisted police in enforcing lockdown regulations and anti-crime actions elsewhere in the province.
The national state of disaster has been extended to 15 February with no indication – at the time of publishing – whether the part-time soldiers will have their call-up extended.