Insight: The Art of the General

Henry Eccles described strategy as “… the comprehensive direction of power to control situations and areas in order to attain objectives.”
That is exactly what the generals of the South African Army kept them busy with during the first part of 2008 in order to ensure that the SA Army’s Future Strategy is kept up to date.
The Chief of the SA Army expressed the need for a long-term strategy in the SA Army in 2004 and a project team was established to oversee the facilitation of a process to develop the SA Army`s Future Strategy. This process was completed in 2007 resulting in a long-term strategy as well as long-term plans for the SA Army. The SA Army now had a strategy and plans by which the army could do its detail medium-term planning and budget from.
In order to ensure that the army`s long-term strategy is kept up to date and relevant for the future, a new process was developed in order to ensure this. Starting in February 2008 the SA Army arranged three major workshops in order to create a common knowledgebase and understanding for all of its generals as well as to verify its strategic objectives and concepts.
The first workshop, titled Seminar 21, was hosted in conjunction with ISS and its main aim was to serve as part of the SA Army`s environmental analysis to determine what actions and factors will impact on the SA Army as to prepare the SA Army for the future.  This workshop was well attended by officers from the whole of the DoD and had presenters from the local as well as international defence sectors and institutions. The main topics that were presented are:
·         International and Continental Security Environments.
·         African Security Architecture and Implications for the SA Army.
·         Case Studies: Peace Support Operations.
·         Strategic Issues in Africa.
·         Preparing African Armies for Future Challenges.
·         Building Suitable Landward Capabilities in Africa.
The second workshop, still part of the SA Army`s environmental analysis, was hosted by the CSIR and with knowledgeable speakers from a range of technology research institutes with the aim of making conclusions on international, continental and regional technology trends in order to compile a SA Army Technology Strategy. The main topics that were presented are:
·         The Impact of the changing nature of war on technology focus areas.
·         Some considerations for the strategic direction and management of SA science and technology required for the SA Army of the future.
·         Global R&D and technology trends.
·         Considerations of human factors in peacekeeping and combat in Africa.
·         Mobility and manoeuvre (Wheeled, tracked and legged).
·         Mobility and manoeuvre (Terrain).
·         Firepower.
·         Command and control.
·         Situational awareness.
·         Protection.
·         Air supportive technologies.
·         Training & simulation and experimentation.
·         Navy supportive technologies.
·         Technology integration.
·         Technology capability building initiatives.
The third workshop, still part of the SA Army`s environmental analysis, was arranged and hosted by the project team of the SA Army and had as its aim to make conclusions on The SA Army`s strategic alignment internationally, continentally, regionally, nationally and internally in the DoD. The main topics that were presented are:
·         The influence of current policy and strategies on the SA Army.
·         The foreseen disconnects between current and future policy and strategy requirements.
·         Aspects that should be taken into consideration to enhance future policy and strategy.
The last three workshops dealt, firstly to once again confirm the SA Army`s strategic objectives and concepts and then to confirm with what capabilities to achieve them and secondly to wargame these capabilities against a set of futuristic scenarios. This was done in conjunction with Defence Intelligence, providing the scenarios and with CJ Ops` Capability Development Centre, providing inputs in terms of capability development. The SA Army now has a list of required capabilities for the short to medium terms and knows which capabilities are required for the future. These, however, are still to be prioritised and presented to the Chief of the SA Army for approval.
As from 2009 the SA Army will continue with its process of future strategy development and with the inputs of 2008, will determine its Strategic Intent, issue guidelines and develop its long-term strategic plans. The first cycle will then be completed in 2010 by updating/developing its current long-term strategic scenario through which the future strategy and plans can be experimented with.
Thus, the SA Army generals analysed the strategic environment, determined/confirmed the “ends” – objectives, “ways” – concepts and the “means” – resources in order to ensure that the SA Army is relevant and ready for the future and that it will be able to execute its mandate.