Properly trained Reserve Force soldiers will be an asset for national development

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The utilisation of well-trained and equipped Reserve Force soldiers can contribute to national development maintains Lieutenant Colonel Philip Coetzer, Staff Officer, Reserves in the SA Army Armour Formation.

As South Africa gears up to mark National Youth Day on June 16 he sees the paradigm shift in the country’s defence sector, as set out in the Defence Review, being a positive opening for the SA National Defence Force and particularly its Reserve Force component to contribute to national development.

If implemented his initiative will also be in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa by 2030.
“The NDP says South Africa can achieve these goals. Promoting leaders and partnerships throughout society could be important building blocks and the development of young soldiers in the Reserve Force fits well into this,” Coetzer said.

It also dovetails with goal four, task 13 set out in the Defence Review where the military is expected to “contribute to the development of South Africa and its people”.
“The defence contribution to national development can be realised virtually immediately as a direct output of day-to-day peace force activities,” he said adding the challenge is to obtain and utilise human and other resources.
“Apart from the important role as regards youth development and utilisation, spatial dispersion of defence infrastructure by means of employment and improving the economic profiles of communities contributes to the utilisation of Reserves in supplementing income levels of poorer households. In essence this means community services also are rendered.
“A strong case can be made that there is room for further development opportunities for Reserve Force soldiers and even Young Lions. Not only can valuable work experience be gained inside and outside the SA Army and/or the non-profit organisation sector but the multi-level utilisation of Reserve soldiers as community development practitioners will add even more value”

Quoting from a published paper Coetzer said the non-profit sector is a major force in the national economy.
“Its relative stability apart, it is also a leader in employing black people and women in decision-making positions. Managerial staff is almost 60% women and 73% black people.”



He sees empowering Reserve Force soldiers with particularly social service educations and backgrounds as relevant.
“The first step would be to obtain a National Certificate in Community Development (level three – ID 66749) or Auxiliary Social Work FET certificate in Auxiliary Social Work (NQF4 ID 23993). So yes, there are great opportunities in the field of Social Service Practitioners.
“This priority area opens up opportunities for Reserve Force soldiers also to be utilised as group facilitators. Seta-accredited training on facilitation of learning events, project management of community programmes and short SAQA-aligned training and development could be utilised as building blocks in this career path development.
“Considering that post-school qualifications (on NQF5 level with a minimum of 120 credits) are required for possible officer selection, a relevant qualification to equip members for such roles is indispensable. Without partners, it would be difficult to implement such a concept.
“An example of where a viable partnership model can be implemented is co-operation between a university and Directorate SA Army Reserves. Directorate SA Army Reserves gives inputs regarding the curriculum development of an existing course, utilises part-time Reserve Force staff officers as mentors and assists with the screening of part-time soldiers for joining the Certificate in Community Leadership programme at the relevant university. The course could be compiled in such a way that learners (Reserve Force soldiers) could facilitate a small-scale community project over three months. Such community facilitation can be done in a previously disadvantaged community where further impetus can be given to the potential defence contribution to the national development concept.
“The concept could be developed further to address the need to include trained Reserve Force soldiers in various community development posts. Subsequently, it not only leads to further development of career paths and helping the thousands of unemployed but also to well-trained soldiers as community or assistant community development practitioners, an approach that recruits, trains and places professionally qualified and allied professionals back into their own communities. A consequence of this approach is that capable Reserve Force soldiers play a vital role as community leaders in their own communities.”