The end of year two to implement heraldic and other insignia changes for the renamed 52 SA Army Reserve Force units/regiments is fast approaching with assistance on offer to ensure the brainchild of former Army Chief, Vusi Masondo, become reality.
The new names, ostensibly to Africanise the former colonial and apartheid era names carried by Reserve Force units, were announced in August 2019 with the affected units given a three-year window to come up with new heraldry. This includes cap/beret badges, shoulder flashes, other insignia as well as flags, pennants and stationery such as letterheads.
That the various elements of a regiment/unit name change are still work in progress was brought home to a recent Army Reserves retreat in Limpopo where a presentation to support the impact of name changes was delivered by Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Eric Kahn. The retreat was presided over by Brigadier General Freeman Moni, said to be new Director: Army Reserve but apparently not yet confirmed to the Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) of the national defence force by its human resources division.
One point made in the presentation is the change is “total” and does not allow for “old traditions and battle honours to be carried forward”.
The CWO also pointed out unit name changes impact on esprit de corps and serving soldiers have to be part of the change process. New members must be informed and unit members must know and understand their unit emblems and insignia.
A ceremonial aspect raised was that of regiment/unit colours with those present told “when a total change is made and old colours will not be taken into consideration” these must be laid down. “This means battle honours will not be carried over to the new colours and be seen as establishment of a total new unit”.
Once agreement is reached at regiment/unit level on what the new heraldry and insignia will be and look like it has to be approved by no less than five “authorities” including the State Herald and SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Heraldry. Approval must also come from the specific regiment/unit where the new heraldry is to be applied as well as the specific SA Army Formation involved, for example air defence, armour or infantry with current SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha last on the list.