“South Africanising” the Reserve Force


The part-time or Reserve Force component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is being “South Africanised” to cater for four defined capabilities.

These are, according to SA Army Reserves Chief Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, conventional; immediately deployable; specialist and Mzanzi Home Guard.

In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, Kamffer pointed out that “a classic Western orientated reserve service system, where reserves predominantly serve on a part-time basis, is not deemed to be aligned to current socio-economic conditions in South Africa”.

“The SANDF Reserve Force Service System has, therefore, had to be reviewed and designed inter alia for the current and future role the Reserves are to play. Chief SA Army (in the form of acting chief Major General “Mannetjies” de Goede and his predecessor Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, now SANDF Chief of Staff) instructed the total concept of the SA Army Reserve should be revised and ‘South Africanised’ to ensure a sustainable capability maintaining the same standards as the Regulars,” he said.

“The newly formulated ‘South Africanised’ Reserve concept should fully contribute to a one force SA Army approach that will deliver a sustainable capability on a par with the Regulars. It can be used to provide the SA Army with both a surge capability when and where required and a standing capability at different readiness levels. A further Chief SANDF guideline was for the Updated Reserve Force Service System to cater for four defined capability categories.”

On the Mzanzi Home Guard Kamffer said the broad philosophy underlining the concept is it will function as an organised and co-ordinated capability in the Reserve Force.

“To facilitate sound command and control, Home Guard elements will operate in existing Reserve Force structures. The intention is for members to be recruited from existing Reserve Force units and provided with additional training.

“Additional members will be recruited from rural and semi-urban areas, targeting soldiers with local knowledge, to enhance collection of information. Elements of the Mzanzi Home Guard are intended to contribute to intelligence-driven operations, disaster response, humanitarian relief and water and sanitation interventions.

“The process to rejuvenate and transform the SA Army Reserves cannot be separated from Project Koba-Tlala. By design, Mzanzi Home Guard elements will be integrated into broader Koba-Tlala processes and aligned to the developmental objectives of government. This will ensure a holistic and integrated approach to reskilling and further education and training of largely unemployed Reserve Force members.

“Through co-operation and financial support of the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) and other sector education training authorities (SETAs), a number of Reserves benefited from reskilling to enable utilisation in their local communities as well as future Mzanzi Home Guard elements. A key objective is ensuring Reserve Force members undergo accredited training enabling them to secure civilian employment outside the SA Army. The choice of subjects is tailored to the needs of the Mzanzii Home Guard, where for example firefighting and first aid are included as part of disaster intervention, supplemented by water purification and sanitation and community development and liaison courses.”

Kamffer stressed development of the Mzanzi Home Guard is a work in progress with substantial research and development still to be concluded, supported by wide-ranging consultation with the SA Army, SANDF, Department of Defence and other stakeholders, including national departments.

“Ultimately training and reskilling of Reserve Force members through Project Koba-Tlala will allow the SANDF to become proactive executing intelligence- driven military operations and disaster response interventions to assist and stabilise communities in need and at the same time contribute to Government’s developmental agenda,” he said.