Implementation of the 2014 Defence Review by the South African Army depends on the injection of additional funding, according to the Chief of the Army, who said that the landward arm of service was still fulfilling its obligations in spite of being underfunded.
Lieutenant General Vusimuzi Masondo said that now the Defence Review has been adopted and reviewed by the National Assembly, the Department of Defence is proceeding with full implementation.
“As the SA Army we have continued with revamping our resources and dealing with equipment renewal even with the limited scope that our budget permits. We are now hoping that since the Defence Review 2014 has been passed, it will allow us to bid for more resources and speed up our response to aspects that require additional attention,” Masondo said.
He added that the Defence Review is happening at a time when South Africa is undergoing economic difficulties. He said the timeline for the implementation of the Review depends on additional injection of funds, but that the Army is trying to save money to assist with implementation.
“One needs to understand that given the different demands on the fiscus and the importance government attaches to socio-economic upliftment of our people, the SANDF has not enjoyed the level of funding it should especially be given to tasks assigned to it.
“We are, however, even under the current situation of austere measures, meeting our objectives of training and providing combat-ready forces that are proudly representing our peace-keeping, peace-building and peace-enforcement obligations across the continent.”
The Defence Review outlines five key milestones that South Africa must embark upon to rejuvenate the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and establish commensurate capabilities. Planning Milestone 1 aims to arrest the decline in the military’s critical capabilities through immediate, directed interventions. Planning Milestone 2 aims to rebalance and reorganise the SANDF as the foundation for future growth. Planning Milestone 3 seeks to create a sustainable defence force that can meet current ordered defence commitments. Planning Milestone 4 covers the enhancement of the defence force’s capacity to respond to nascent challenges in the strategic environment and Planning Milestone 5 aims to defend South Africa against an imminent or dire threat.
To implement these milestones, the Department of Defence has established the Defence Review Implementation Project Team, an oversight body representative of both the Defence Secretariat and the Military Command. It will, according to the Defence Ministry, ensure departmental integration during both planning and implementation of Defence Review recommendations.
Top of the five-strong priority list for the Defence Secretariat planning team is development of a funding model to enable resourced implementation of the Review. When the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) approved the Defence Review in May, it said that “the Committee…has recommended that, in consultation with the National Treasury, the Department of Defence must give assurances on the affordability of the Defence Review, including total cost estimations of each milestone.”
Earlier this month defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that she was responding “with urgency” to put plans to arrest the decline of the SANDF within the current five years starting in this financial year.
Defence expert and Defence Review committee member Helmoed Romer Heitman has warned that without proper funding, the SANDF is headed for disaster. “The force outlined in the Review…is certainly not affordable on current funding levels – but then nor is what the Defence Force is actually doing today, which is why it is – and has been since 1989 – in effect eating itself and is headed for implosion if there is not an adjustment to either the funding levels or the country’s ambitions or both.”
With regard to the Defence Review, he stated that, “it is not for the Defence Force or the Minister of Defence to assure anyone of what is or is not affordable: Government as a whole, and that includes Parliament, must decide our foreign policy and national security policy. Those define what will be required of the Defence Force in terms of sustained and surge capabilities.
“The Defence Force must then work out a strategy and a force structure and design, cost it and present the bill to government as such, which must then either find the funds or reduce its ambitions.”