2024 MSD intake reports for two years duty

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2024, specifically January, saw the first biennial military skills development (MSD) intake into the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) – with annual intakes sacrificed on the altar of cost-cutting.

The small number – 2 634 – who made it through the recruitment process are 637 more than were accepted for the 2022 MSD intake, representing a slight increase in the SANDF commitment to government’s National Development Plan (NDP).

As with previous MSD intakes the number of applicants far exceeds what the four SANDF services can afford. According to the Department of Defence (DoD) Human Resource Division over 180 000 MSD applications were received from young men and women in all nine provinces.

The SA Army as the largest service had its ranks swelled by 1 750 recruits who reported at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn for basic military training (BMT) in mid-January. The newcomers had their first taste of soldiering within hours of arrival when they were on parade, still in “civvies”, for what SA Army Corporate Communication termed “their official induction”.

As with the 2022 intake the SA Navy (SAN) is number two for MSD recruits with the maritime service welcoming 377 recruits to the SAS Saldanha training facility in Saldanha Bay on the west coast of the Western Cape.

The SA Air Force (SAAF) will be 357 stronger personnel-wise, barring medical issues and failure to make the grade, after BMT at the SAAF Gymnasium Hoedspruit, adjacent to the air force base of the same name.

Successful SAAF MSD recruits reported to what is now called Swartkop West, previously Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop West and prior to that the SAAF Gymnasium in the Centurion suburb Valhalla in mid-January. SAAF Chief Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo was on hand to meet the newcomers to the blue uniform telling them they would be separated from their comfort zone and urging them to be disciplined and “embrace the military culture”.

The SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) was allocated 150 MSD recruits who reported to the service’s Lephalale (previously Ellisras) training centre in Limpopo. Post BMT, like other 2024 MSD recruits, they will be mustered for specific training. In the military medical service this includes nursing and pharmacy assistants.

On completion of the two-year MSD service period, a small percentage of the 2024 intake will be offered medium-term contracts in one of the four SANDF services or be expected to sign up for the Reserve Force where their military skills can be utilised.

There were two intakes of around five thousand a year in the early years of MSD implementation. This dropped to around the two thousand mark once a year, with intakes now only every second year due to funding constraints.

MSD is the military’s major contribution to providing employment as per the National Development Plan 2030 which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa.