South Africa’s foreign military representation reaches 62 countries


That the South African military is part and parcel of the country’s foreign policy is evidenced not only by troop and materiel contributions to African peacekeeping missions but also by the number of defence and military attaches the country deploys.

At last count there were defence attaches deployed in 42 countries in addition to attaches detached to both the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN).

Senior South African officers, mostly colonels and navy captains with a sprinkling of brigadier generals, are currently representing their country and its military policy in Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Additionally South Africa has 20 non-resident defence attaches serving Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Darussalam, Guinea, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Tunisia and Uruguay. A non-resident attaché also serves at European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels.

An example of the work done by the South Africa defence attaché corps comes with this week’s AU heads of safety and security meeting in Addis Ababa.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula attended the tenth ordinary meeting of the specialised technical committee on defence, safety and security (STCDSS). A statement from her office said the meeting was due to discuss “a number of essential issues in relations to safety and security in African countries”.

According to Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokeswoman: “The Commission of the AU has urged all member states to participate in the crucial upcoming STCDSS meeting, which will examine and discuss progress made in the implementation of previous STCDSS sessions. Topping the agenda will be a report by the Assessment Team that undertook verifications in the regions of the status of regional standby forces.”

The team was scheduled to present the final African Standby Force (ASFS) assessment report to the STCDSS meeting.

On the other side of the ledger South Africa is currently home base for defence attaches from 59 countries.

They are Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, China, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, South Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Three countries – Australia, Israel and Kuwait – have non-resident defence attaches for South Africa.