Issues particular to the wider engineering fraternity in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) were highlighted with specific reference to optimising resources at December’s Defence Engineering Science and Technology Conference (DESTC) 2021.
The conference at Defence Logistics Division was the fourth annual gathering of defence engineers from the services and divisions of the national defence force. Participants, according to Captain Tshiwela Ramaphala, were from all ranks and included engineers, technicians, artisans and technologists.
Sustainable, efficient and effective output by optimal use of resources was the three day conference theme with professionalising science, engineering and technology as the core.
The first DESTC in 2018 came from SA Air Force (SAAF) engineers seeking solutions to problems and issues pertinent to the wider defence sector. This includes Armscor, the CSIR, Denel and defence sector sub-contractors.
A project presented by Candidate Officers Mashinini and Mahlangu to reclaim the capital city with the emphasis on refurbishing the military areas of the Tshwane metro draw widespread support from conference attendees. The COs were trained in Cuba as part of the Cuban/South African defence bilateral Project Thusano, with its roots in vehicle maintenance and refurbishment.
Ramaphala reports the pair was inspired by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Force’s philosophy of self-sustenance and quality over quantity. “They intend, with this project, not only to upgrade the aesthetic appearance of military owned facilities in Pretoria but to re-establish buffer zones outside military facilities to prevent littering and illegal settlements, because ‘a country is only as secure as its military is secure’, they say”. The project is set to start next month (February) at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof.
On defence engineering, delegates heard “it is an important yet diverse and challenging area vital to protecting the country but is often overlooked”.
Another speaker explained the long term vision of the conference as growing “a new generation of defence engineers, scientists, technologists and artisans to maximise the benefits of our defence members and enable the SANDF Chief of Engineers to act as scientific adviser to the Minister of Defence”.