The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is keeping up with the times by increasing the number of technologically skilled personnel among its ranks. Addressing the media at the 5th Military Information and Communications Symposium of South Africa (MICSSA) currently underway in Pretoria, Brigadier General Simphiwe Sipika said the SANDF is increasingly participating in peacekeeping missions and there is a need to equip members with technological skills.

Sipika admitted that the defence is lacking personnel with information technology skills, the state BuaNews agency reported. “We have now embarked on training members on technology,” he said. The MICSSA symposium is expected to provide an ideal opportunity to promote new technologies, trends and policy issues. According to Sipika, modern military operations increasingly require an effective ability to exchange information. Sipika is chief of staff in the Command & Management Information Systems Division of the SANDF.

In keeping with its vision, MICSSA 2011 will promote information and communications related developments to stakeholders in the Southern African defence environment and beyond, inclusive of the military and civilian environments, BuaNews said.

Armscor co-chairman Danie Otto added communication and IT is a major enabler for modern military systems and equipment to function in a network-centric manner. “As a modern fighting force, the SANDF is increasingly confronted by the need to participate in operations beyond our borders,” he said.

MICSSA was started in 2003 and is driven by the need to create a forum where the defence community – government and industry – may share ideas, strategies, requirements and potential solutions relating to information and communications technology.

It was successfully established as a forum for the Information and Telecommunications Technology (ICT) community, with an interest in defence within southern Africa. About 300 delegates are attending the forum. This includes delegates from other countries, some showcasing the latest military technology.