2015 Air Force Day speech by F Z Msimang


On January 30, the Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General F.Z. Msimang, gave the following speech to those attending the Air Force Day Parade, officer’s commissioning ceremony and SAAF 95 anniversary celebrations at Air Force Base Waterkloof:

In the recent past two years, during which I assumed Office as Chief of the South African Air Force, I have been a witness to the brilliant rise of the men and women of our Air Force in attaining commendable and well deserved milestones in their development. It has been a process characterised by inspiration, buttressed by a growing sense of patriotism, service and commitment. This has reinforced my belief in the general effort at building a powerful and committed Air Force that Inspires Confidence and a spirit of steadfastness, to weather the most challenging of storms of modern times.

On this the 21st year of democracy of our Republic, I am moved that I again extend to you all my warm and cordial welcome. I am moved by many factors, because apart from bearing witness to this commissioning parade of these NEW Officers standing in front of you, we are commemorating the 95th anniversary of the South African Air Force. Hence, we proudly stand here today in dignity and, as a proud nation. That pride translates itself into a formidable challenge and a great opportunity to these Officers, to ensure that that pride is nursed and protected for the benefit of our entire nation.

South Africans, needless to say, we are after all – “the people’s Air Force” guided by the National constitution, always reminded by the life and the unforgettable deeds and words of our late founding father; an impeccable leader of the people; first President of a democratic South Africa; Commander in Chief of the South African National Defence Force – the iSithwalandwe – uTata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela when he poignantly declared:
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

We are all called upon to always be reminded of the sacrifices borne by our forefathers, and the veterans of our liberation struggle. May the courage and vision displayed by them, serve to inspire and motivate us all, collectively to strive, to bring hope, peace and security in our Motherland, the Continent and the World. The future of the democratic South Africa is inextricably interwoven with that of Africa. Therefore, our links with this continent are of particular relevance and importance.

The South African Air Force is the second oldest Air Force in the World. Through its 95 years of existence, it is evident that the South African Air Force has, and must continue to guarantee Air Power excellence in everything that it does. How else can it therefore be of consequence and a beacon of hope, if it does not appropriate its role in the African Agenda? This is one of the fundamental reasons compelling the South African Air Force in the coming Financial Year 15/16, to give special attention to capacity building and the enhancement of its capabilities

Our constitutional mandate and Chief of the SANDF’s intent, informs the South African Air Force’s statement of intent for the Chief of the SA Air Force: to prepare, provide and support air defence capabilities for the defence and protection of the Republic of South Africa. Preparing the Forces, helps to ensure that the SAAF is always at the required level of readiness in terms of its personnel, combat and support systems. Force provision on the other hand ensures that the required combat and support systems are available to execute its mandate. This understanding has helped shape our definition of Air Power as:
“Air & Space Power is the nation’s capacity to project through the medium of air or aerospace, in the employment of all its aviation resources, civil and military, public and private in support of the National Interests”.

At all times, the South African National Defence Force has invariably, prepared for the inevitable. Taken into account are the times of extreme need; the times of sacrifice and yes, as well as times of mourning. It is a standing rule that dependence on the country is discouraged. In particular we as soldiers are governed by the tenet that ours is to serve, and where necessary, to die in defence of our motherland and its national interest.

It is therefore fitting, that I thank each and everyone in the blue uniform as well as, the civilians that continue to support the Air Force – past and present – the fallen and still standing, your families – and the wider Air Force family that includes other Arms of Service; the Divisions and the defence industry. Without you, we could not soar:

On this momentous occasion of Air Force Day, we acknowledge the achievements of South African Air Force directorates, bases, squadrons, units, and sections. In the SA Air Force the prestige awards are in recognition of outstanding accomplishments.

I congratulate all the winners in the various categories; and the overall winner – Air Force Base Bloemspriut commanded by Colonel Oscar Mkhize. May this spirit to excel live in each one of us, and may your achievements be a shining example to the rest of the Air Force. Crucially, we should remember that successful members create a successful Air Force – an Air Force that Inspires Confidence.

Our vision “An Air Force that inspire Confidence” is hinged on 5 strategic goals; Readiness, Sustainability, Safety, Compliance and Image. Central to these goals, are the issues of transformation: transformation of the mind-set, behaviour and of our organisation. I would like to stress, that everyone in this Air Force has a positive role to play and a future in this organisation.

Transformation, capacity building, career planning, exchange programmes with other Air Forces, Foreign Learning Opportunities, capturing our collective history, Back to Basics and introducing chess to the whole SAAF, will be some of my focus areas for this year. There will always be the need to modify and adjust, so as to ensure that we set up quality and robust processes that enables meaningful change. I believe that each member is blessed with potential gifts that, when nurtured and woken up, will yield vast productivity and ingenuity in our organisation. I know that you can be giants in that outfit, soldiers who inspire confidence, each day full of excellence and discipline.

One of the Ministerial Priorities is the transformation and revitalisation of Reserves Force. It is my intent to build the SAAF Reserve Force capability that is relevant and potent in all musterings, and to support the Reserve Force Flying Squadrons. Proper Career planning and administration of the SAAF Reserve Force members will be high on my agenda for this year.

The physical and developmental training we impart to the Reserves and Regulars alike, guided by the One-Force Concept, moulds us into one formidable organisation ready to fulfil its Constitutional mandate.

The University Reserve Training Program continues to be implemented in the SAAF.

Ladies and gentlemen, it behoves me that I should also today recognise the 31 successful members of the Officers Forming Course, who after 22 weeks of arduous training have come out with flying colours and will don their officer ranks from now on. As leaders in your own right, you must never settle for mediocrity.

On behalf of the Air Force Command Council, I extend congratulations to these members, and to their families, friends and dear ones, without whose support such achievement would have been well-nigh impossible. To Colonel van Aswegen, the Officer Commanding of the South African Air Force College, and his instructional staff, congratulations on a job well done! I also acknowledge Brigadier General Khanye, Director Education Training and Development and his staff, for all the support rendered towards this successful outcome.

To each and every member of our Air Force, I counsel that to be a true leader is to inspire and motivate others. Value your people and ensure that skills transfer, mentorship and supervision are done at all levels. Acknowledge and recognise individual achievements and successes but also have the courage to enforce a culture of taking responsibility of your actions

Given the Government’s focus on “Peace, Security & Stability” on the African continent, each and every one of us must be combat ready to respond and to defend our territorial integrity and National Interest.

His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic and the Commander In Chief of our SANDF, stated in his address on the occasion of the Mandela Medal Parade, Waterkloof Air Force Base on the 07 December 2014:
“Our soldiers are highly regarded with regards to peacekeeping and post-conflict reconciliation missions under the auspices of the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community

We have indeed made an indelible mark in the field of Peace Support Operations and have become a key role player”.

We, the members of the South African Air Force are here to serve this great nation resolutely and professionally guided by our values of Human Dignity, Excellence in all we do, Integrity and Service before Self. Indeed, we all have to heed the clarion call to “to go back to basics” in the spirit of service with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism.

As you may recall, last year we hosted what has now become a national asset in the form Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD). Whilst there may have been challenges, this instalment of the show was the most successful to date. Our country, people, armed forces and industry received positive coverage at no less than 20 countries. That was indeed a feat of accomplishment. We now look forward to AAD 2016 and trust that we can count on your support and positive contributions for another great successful event As the SAAF, we have taken a resolute commitment to ensure that we work closely with the South African Defence Industry as a partner of choice. The SAAF, supported by the South African Defence Industry, will ensure that our soldiers are well equipped and supported as we continue to bring about peace and security here at home and abroad

We are continuing with our extensive capability plan, which includes measures to recruit, develop and retain scarce skilled human resources. Our strategic partnership with the local aerospace industry is critical to ensure that we own both the capability and a sustainable aviation industry. To overcome current and future perceived SAAF challenges, we must remain intently focused on our outcomes and not the obstacles. A scintilla of positive attitude in each member can spark positivity and hope for a safe and prosperous 2015.

My gratitude goes to all those members behind the scenes, for their tireless efforts under the leadership of Brig Gen Madumane in making this parade a success in which it is.

To the members on parade, I wish you all…. success in your future endeavours. You are our future leaders. As the Native American saying goes “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; We borrow it from our Children”. Go out there and serve the Nation”.

I thank all the members on parade led by the Parade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Abrahamse and Parade Warrant Officer, Master Warrant Officer Nel. I also thank the South African Air Force Band led by Lieutenant Colonel Pienaar for adding a touch of elegance and sparkle to this auspicious occasion.

Finally, I thank all members of the media present here today, for joining us in our celebrations. I have always been of the opinion that the media is indeed a great force multiplier for air power, and as such you form a very important asset for the Air Force. We remain committed to the sound relationship that we wish to foster with you.