Forty-four SANDF officers deployed as foreign military representatives

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South African military interests abroad are looked after by 44 senior officers from all four arms of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

The country has, according to President Jacob Zuma, 126 foreign missions operating either as embassies, or in the case of Commonwealth countries, as high commissions. Alphabetically they start in Algeria and go through to Zimbabwe.

While the SANDF said it cannot divulge information on particular attaché deployments as this was privileged information, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) shows there are South African military officers in 19 African countries. South Africa does not have direct military representation at the 54-member strong African union, headquartered in Addis Ababa. The country’s military interests are looked after by the attaché based in Ethiopia where a brigadier general is the senior military attaché supported by a colonel and a third secretary (defence), a senior warrant officer.

According to DIRCO, South Africa maintains a permanent mission in New York where a colonel is listed as a defence advisor to the United Nations.

In Africa, South African diplomatic missions with defence representation are, in addition to Ethiopia, Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s membership of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) does not at this stage stretch to having a military attaché or defence advisor in India although senior officers are based in Brazil (a brigadier general and a major), Russia (a colonel) and China (a brigadier general, colonel and senior warrant officer).

The United States and United Kingdom both have brigadier generals heading up the South Africa military component of the foreign missions in Washington and London.

With the exception of Swaziland where a lieutenant colonel is listed as the current first secretary (defence), all other South African military attaches and defence advisors are either colonels or Navy captains. While the SANDF maintains this is privileged information it is posted on the
 DIRCO website.