Chief of the South African Army Lieutenant General Vusumuzi “Vusi” Masondo says the deployment of armour on peacekeeping missions is not foreseen for the time being. However, he told an Armour Symposium this week doctrine is required for such an eventuality.
“Currently there are no South African armour forces deployed in Africa – neither with prime mission equipment (PME) nor in a secondary role, except for tank and armoured car crews in an infantry role deployed in Operation Corona, which entails internal border safeguarding operations,” Masondo said in his opening address.
“Although the likelihood of deploying light or medium mechanised forces in current peace missions is, for the time being, not foreseen; doctrine is required for such an eventuality. It is for this reason that the South African Army will continue to debate and research matters in this regard…”
The South African Armour Formation musters some 167 main battle tanks (26 Olifant Mk2, 141 Olifant Mk1A and Mk1B; 34 in service, 133 in store), up to 242 Rooikat armoured cars (80 upgraded under Project Arum Lily, about 30 in service, 242 manufactured) and around 52 Ratel ZT3 tank destroyers (16 reported in service, the remainder in store according to the International Institute for Security Studies) in addition to some Ratel 90 fire support vehicles and Ratel command vehicles.
These are allocated as follows (regular units in blue, Reserve Force in red):
SA Army Armour School, Bloemfontein
1 SA Tank Regiment, Bloemfontein
Natal Mounted Rifles, Durban
Regiment President Steyn, Bloemfontein
Pretoria Regiment, Pretoria
1 Special Service Battalion, Bloemfontein
Umvoti Mounted Rifles, Durban
Regiment Oranjerivier, Cape Town
Regiment Mooirivier, Potchefstroom
Light Horse Regiment, Johannesburg
Masondo continued that South Africa’s military “is a landward force in the main. Of this land capability an armour capability forms an indispensable part of any army worth mentioning.
“An organisation like the SADCBRIG [Southern African Development Community Brigade] probably needs light and mobile forces, including armour, with a rapid deployable capability for either early-entry operations or sustained operations in theatre. This capability will provide for humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, conflict prevention and force protection, all part of complex peacekeeping, to name but a few. This force must be robust enough to ensure that it can operate across the spectrum of military conflict, which will be inconceivable without armour,” Masondo elaborated.
“The RSA therefore requires a balanced military force, comprising light mobile and also medium to heavy assets in order to tailor make forces to counter the specific threat. Such force groupings will naturally be made up from the South African Army’s inherent capabilities.”