There are 95 new students in the ranks of the Military Academy at Saldanha and they join 158 current students for the 2018 academic year.
All the students making up the Class of 2018 were welcomed to the Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University (SU) following a change of command parade for the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) tertiary education institution.
Outgoing commandant, Major General Laurence Mbatha officially handed over command to Brigadier General Gerald Pharo. The new commandant will, as his predecessor did, collaborate with Professor Sam Tshehla, Dean of the Military Science Faculty.
The students are all Department of Defence (DoD) personnel and were selected from units of the SA Army, SA Air Force, SA Military Health Service and SA Navy to attend the degree programme at the Military Academy. The qualifications they aim to achieve will empower and assist them to become leaders in their specific fields in the military corps.
Tshehla said after the parade and welcome in an interview with the Military Faculty’s Corporate Communication Division the vision for the Military Academy is to increase student intake and have a thousand students a year “a few years from now”.
The Military Academy has a working agreement between the DoD and SU. Tshehla said a renewed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the DoD and SU signed last year ensured shared training would continue. The agreement with SU was first signed more than 60 years ago and it is still going strong Tshehla said.
“Challenges between academic and military training do exist, but they can be managed. Close co-operation between the Commandant and the Dean ensures the students’ learning always tops the priority list,” Tshehla said.
Speaking at the change of command parade outgoing Commandant Mbatha said the university and the DoD had a strong relationship which was becoming stronger, especially in light of the renewed signing of the MOA.
“It was an honour to serve as Commandant of the Academy. The journey was marked by challenges, but we always placed the interests of the Academy first. The milestones we achieved would not have been possible were it not for SU, our national defence force and support from members of the Academy,” he said.