C Army’s address SA Army Gymnasium officer formative course


Honoured guests, Senior Officers, Junior Officers, Senior Warrant Officers, Junior Warrant Officers, NCOs, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to address you at this Officer Formative End Parade, at which 113 new officers of the SA Army and 114 of SAMHS in the ranks of Maj, Capt and Lt have formally received their Formative Course qualification.

After 22 weeks of rigorous and strenuous military training consisting of various modules and practical exercises they have definitely reached the highlights of their careers that of becoming officers in the SA Army and SAMHS, indeed, in the SANDF. During this course the graduates were exposed to 16 Unit Standards compiled in the following modules: Well Being with 4 Unit Standards, Personal Mastery with 5 Unit Standards, Resources Management with 3 Unit Standards and Warfare with Unit Standards. These theoretical modules were augmented by PT sessions and evaluations, as well as multi-dimensional TEWT (Tactical Exercise without Troops) which all culminated in a Integrated Practical Leadership Exercise (IPE) conducted at Wallmannsthal Training Area where theory was put into practice.

A quick review of these modules will reveal that this course laid a very good foundation and also serves as a reference for a prosperous future in their military careers. What make this course more unique is that the learners on course will get a qualification accredited and verified by SASSETA.

Within the context of the contemporary battle space in which the SA Army and SAMHS is currently engaged and which is likely to remain so in the near-to-distant future, it is clear that the foundation laid will require some additional training/studies and functional exposure to fully prepare them for the challenging decision-making tasks that lie ahead. The majority of our deployed soldiers are currently serving in operations other than war (PSO in particular) beyond the RSA borders.

This situation is likely to remain so beyond 2020 in the light of our country’s continued foreign obligations to the continent, especially within the SADC region under the auspices of the AU’s African Standby Force. It is imperative to acknowledge at this point that the operational theatre that
accompanies such a commitment is highly volatile and asymmetric in nature. Situations on the ground can change from low-level conflict to highly intensive operations of conventional and strenuous nature through the whole continuum of military conflict in a split second. This condition will require the future core SA Defence Force to possess dynamic Rapidly Deployable Expeditionary Forces, which will have a direct impact on the required profile of our leadership core, particularly you the junior and middle management officers. It is also true that the Officers of the future SA Army and SAMHS will not only have to be brave and diligent in leading their subordinates, but will also have to act as expert advisors to multilateral peace officials and act as
ambassadors of our nation in its entirety. In the current security environment, militaries need soldiers, leaders and commanders with judgement, wisdom and reasoning abilities, not just technical skills.

Against this background it is important for all SA Defence Force members, particularly the officer corps (which these men and women have just joined), to expand their knowledge of the complex and diverse African environment and its fast-changing and hence confusing operational theatres if they wish to remain relevant and competent to meet the constitutional demands and their mandate. As military historians will agree, a typical ideal leader under these conditions will be born out of a three dimensional cornerstone, which include not only military training, but also operational exposure and tertiary education alike, a trend that has been elevated to a basic requirement for officers of modern armies around the globe (eg in Canada, France, UK, and USA Officers Corps). As a reiteration, the training qualification you have just received should be perceived as a building block for further development and, fortunately, alternate opportunities in this regard are readily awaiting you.

In the light of the Revolution in Military Affairs within this Information Age, coupled with the various forces of Globalisation as well as the need for military commanders to fully grasp the environment and conditions under which they operate, the requirement for a tertiary qualification cannot be overemphasised. For an officer operating within the modern African environment, an understanding of the nature of regional conflicts within the broader African political and security landscape and their resultant catastrophic impact that continues to undermine NEPAD initiatives will arguably serve as a departure point. In this regard, the readily available and accredited SA Military Academy (affiliated to the University of Stellenbosch as the Faculty of Military Science) provides grand opportunities to all members of the SA Army to further their tertiary studies in a variety of wellbalanced, hybrid academic programmes that are tailor-made to prepare African military practitioners. This can be offered either by means of distance education or on a full-time basis.

Alternatively, one can also enrol with any accredited tertiary institution of choice that offers equivalent qualifications and study at state expense a system which facilitates this approach is
already in place. SAMHS learners already exploited this opportunity by obtaining a degree in various specialist directions. Information with regard to access to these opportunities is available at your HR offices in all structures of the SANDF.

As the preceding comments already reveal, operational exposure in the forming of military leaders is equally important. Owing to our geo-strategic, political and economic positioning, the SANDF
continues to host joint and combined multinational operational exercises at Combat Training Centre (CTC), Lohatlha geared to prepare our soldiers for the large spectrum of military operations as well as to facilitate inter-operationabilty within the framework of the SADC Brigade, the African Standby Force, and the entire UN standby system. Foreign learning opportunities, though limited
for a variety of reasons, are also availed by our multi-facet bilateral and multilateral agreements. By the same token, our continued engagement in peace missions around conflict-ridden African locations in support of the SADC/AU/UN initiatives once again provides opportunities for wide operational exposure that are not always available during peace times. I urge you to go out there and explore all these opportunities.

It is also noteworthy that our organisational structure is hierarchically shaped as a cone with the tip on top. So, only one of you, for example, can became the Chief of the SA Army or SG at any given time. Thus, although opportunities to progress through the ranks prevail, it is significant that you remain realistic in your promotion expectations to avert disappointment that may negatively affect your performance. Whilst I can guarantee that the SA Army and SAMHS will do its best in facilitating your progression through the ranks, I want to appeal to you that you must strive to become the best officer in your various military environment within the SA Army or SAMHS that the organisation has ever had in the various levels of command, management or leadership you may be serving in at any given time. Remember, the best leader will always put the interest of his soldiers and the organisation before his/her own.

Finally, I cannot conclude without expressing my sincere gratitude to all role players. For this reason, allow me to formally thank all those who were involved in this Formative Course, be it directly or otherwise contributing in making a difference in the learner’s career. On behalf of not only the Chief of the SA Army/SANDF* but the entire community of officers in our organisation, I bid you a hearty welcome to the officer corps of the SANDF. All the best with for future careers. I thank you.