Defence Review by December: Sisulu

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Lindiwe Sisulu, the defence and military veterans minister, has tasked her military adviser, Lieutenant General (Retired) Maomela “Mojo” Motau to produce a long awaited review of South Africa’s defence policy.

Motau was chief of defence intelligence until last April when he unexpectedly resigned. 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.”

Various ministers of defence have promised an update since 2004 but none have reached Parliament. Heitman continues that various efforts have been made over the years, the latest of which, produced just before Sisulu’s appointment. This “blithely skipped over core strategic issues, ignored already approved army and navy force designs and contained errors of fact.”

Sisulu in her second annual budget today 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 said.
“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. The onerous assignment of leading our Review Process has fallen on retired Lieutenant-General Motau,” she added. “None could be better placed to drive this process. It will enable 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.