The South African Army does not have room for “nice to have” projects, the service’s chief, Lt Gen Solly Shoke says.
Shoke says the country – and the globe – faces a number of challenges “and as much as we would love to have new prime mission equipment, there are social needs.”
Because of pressing budget constraints the Army must now do with “just the bare necessities” he said at a media briefing when asked about the Army`s soldier modernisation programme, Project African Warrior and plans mooted some years ago to instrument a training area to allow for live force-on-force training.
With spending priorities in the SA National Defence Force moving from the Air Force to the Army in coming years Shoke was diplomatic on which of the 40-odd registered projects the service currently manages would receive priority.
Shoke said the Army is a system-of-systems that must be able to defend SA as well as conduct operations abroad. Project priorities were as such a function of foreign and defence policy: he would prioritise those projects that gave or renewed for the Army capabilities needed in current operations.
With The SA army mainly proving forces for peacekeeping, that would suggest a focus on motorised as well as light forces and supporting elements for these.
The Chief of the Army did note that his tactical logistics fleet of Samil-range trucks was now very old and as a result, was letting the deployed forces down. The trucks are meant to be replaced in coming years under Project Vistula, a programme that in the last two years has attracted some controversy.