A change of command parade in Tempe this week marked the end of a 41-year career in the various components of what is today the SA Army Armour Formation.
Brigadier General Andre Retief handed command to Brigadier General Fezile Mbotyi.
Benoni-born Retief joined the then SA Defence Force (SADF) in 1977 and graduated as an armour officer at the end of that year, winning the trophy for the best armoured car student. He then served at 2 Special Service Battalion, the School of Armour, SA Armoured Corps and did tours as a tank squadron commander and wing commander, many at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC).
He also served as a staff officer at the then Directorate of Armour at Army headquarters as weapon system manager for the Rooikat and ZT3 projects. He was also instructor at the Army College and served as chief instructor at the junior command and staff duties branch.
Retief successfully completed the SA Army’s Senior Command and Staff Duties Course in 1993 and the Executive National Security Programme at the SA National Defence College in 2002. He was appointed Officer Commanding at the School of Armour in November 1996. In this post he was closely involved with development of SA Armoured Corps training and laid the foundation for the SA Armour Museum. To facilitate this he visited training facilities and museums of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, the US Armor Centre in Fort Knox and to the Malaysian Armoured Corps.
Under his leadership the School of Armour won the “Bloemfontein: Institution of the Year” award for 2003 and the SANDF Caltex Floating Trophy for Environmental Protection.
After serving as Senior Staff Officer Armour Research and Development at the SA Army Armour Formation from 2008, he was appointed as Chief of Staff in January 2013. A year later 2014 he was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed as General Officer Commanding SA Army Armour Formation.
Meanwhile, the SANDF’s armour capabilities will be available to be seen by the public on 7 September. The South African Army will be hosting a Night Shooting event at the General de Wet Training Area, Bloemfontein. Gates open at 15:00 and the exercise commences at last light.