SA Army chief of force preparation Maj Gen Vuzi Masondo says the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has developed a common peace operations doctrine.
And Institute for Security Studies defence analyst Henry Boshoff adds the SADC doctrine – based on that of the United Nations – has also been adopted by the African Union.
Masondo says the doctrine forms “a common basis for SADC forces to work together.” Much of writing was done by South Africans.
The general made the remark at an Army media briefing on the sidelines of Exercise Young Eagle that wrapped up on Monday while answering a question on equipment standardisation in the region.
“Equipment standardisation would be a plus for SADC,” Masondo added. He says SADC member states source their equipment from “different sources which has an impact on interoperability.”
SA Army Master Paratrooper Brig Gen McGill Alexander (Ret) added that the starting point for standardisation “obviously needs to be at the level of command and control (C2).
“There are already considerable efforts being made in this respect with the establishment of peace support colleges and civil institutions where the procedures can at least be standardised.
“Once the procedures are standardised … and that`s very much the approach NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) used as well…
“We did have an exercise about three years ago … in Botswana, where we had 13 or 14 different countries take part and we had from platoons through companies to battalions being provided by different countries and we made up brigade as a result of that.
“Although there were lots of problems and difficulties … ultimately the exercise was quite successful … and it [the brigade] was able to function with multinational battalions,” Alexander says.
“The difficulties are considerable but they can be overcome, provided your C2 and doctrine are in line.
“At this stage the focus is getting that right,” he says.
“It is much easier to correct than the entire logistics system and the equipment and so on. Hopefully, ultimately, that will be achieved, but as General Masondo says, not even NATO has yet managed to reach a point where there is standardisation.”
Alexander also says it is unlikely the region would standardise on local equipment. “It would be nice to think that in doing so we`d give a boost to the South African defence industry and get people to make use of our ‘set up`, but we also have to face the reality, I think, that many countries have links with other arms producing nations and have certain obligations. … it is certainly a wonderful ideal to strive for.”