Efforts to update South Africa’s teenaged defence policy has to date cost over R500 000, but so far to no effect.
The most recent White Paper on defence was published 14 years ago in 1996 and a follow-up Defence Review was done in 1998. They have been criticised on a number of grounds, Helmoed-Römer Heitman last month wrote in Janes’ Defence Weekly that both had been drafted “by advisers with naïve notions of international politics and little understanding of defence and who focused on peripheral issues.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says two attempts at updating the policy documents, Defence Update 2025 and Defence Strategy 2010-2030, have cost R366 781.10 in Armscor consultants. The MoD adds Defence Update 2025 was completed for presentation to Cabinet on August 7, 2008. The Defence Strategy 2010-2030 was completed on January 29, 2010, although it was reported late last year that Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu had returned the document to its writers so that it could be recrafted to explain the task of a military in a developmental state.
Both the Defence Update and the Defence Strategy documents were drafted by the Defence Secretariat, the SA National Defence Force and Armscor’s Defence Institute. “External consultants were not used. Armscor’s Defence Institute was contracted to render scientific decision support and research services and they are not external consultants,” the MoD said in response to a question by Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier.
Heitman has also criticised these documents, saying the latter, especially, “blithely skipped over core strategic issues, ignored already approved army and navy force designs and contained errors of fact.”
Armscor was paid R106 030 in FY2004/5, for decision support for the Defence Update, R112 978 in FY2005/6 and R147 773.10 in FY2006/7, adding to R366 781.10. A further R193 660.37 was paid to Armscor in FY2009/10, taking the total to R560 441.47.
In addition, the SA Air Force has paid Armscor R 44 344 to help draft Air Force Vision 2015, an updated revised version of Air Force Vision 2012. “This 2012 document originated in 1999 and served as an initial benchmark document. Vision 2012 was subsequently updated and promulgated as Air Force Vision 2015 in November 2006.
“Brigadier General PJ van Zyl (Director Air Capability Plan) coordinated and compiled the Air Force Vision 2015. A team of researchers headed by Mr Johan De Jager (Defence Institute – Armscor entity) provided inputs on one section of the document dealing with the origin of Air Power in the South African context.”
SA Army eschewed consultants for its SA Army Vision 2020. Work on this document commenced in November 2005 and was completed in November 2006. “The SA Army did not use consultants. A project team consisting of military members was compiled to research and write the SA Army Vision 2020.”
In her budget vote earlier this month, Sisulu said her military adviser, Lieutenant General (Retired) Maomela “Mojo” Motau had been tasked to produce the long awaited review by this December.
Sisulu said major changes, “both dramatic and evolutionary, have taken place in the defence environment over the past 15 years. The policy review and strategy would of necessity take this into consideration and will be informed by a clear-eyed assessment of what we want our foreign policy to achieve, the potential threats facing us, and socio-economic interests in what is a very uncertain era of growing competition among new major powers.
“The new environment requires new thinking and new approaches,” Sisulu added.
“We had a Defence Workshop from 19 to 21 March 2010 to review the work done in this respect and are of the view that we need to give this added impetus. I can confirm that the Review Team will deliver the final product by December 2010. … It will enable [us] to do long term planning in terms of force levels, force structure and equipment needs.
“For the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) and particular the SA Army to remain successful, it will have to take into account the complexities of African politics. The size of the continent, its geographic and climate complexity, as well as the lack of transport infrastructure, problems engendered by economic under-development and the diverse military challenges it may encounter, will necessitate the SANDF to be well and appropriately equipped and trained for both its external and internal roles as prescribed by the Constitution.
In his reply to Sisulu’s speech, Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier said of the effort to update the 1996 and 1998 documents that never “before in the history of defence policy-making have so many, laboured for so long, to produce so little.”