The January 2014 intake of Military Skills Development (MSD) volunteers totals 1 935 and is in line with the Department of Defence’s (DoD) stated aim of getting “around 2 000 young and fit members into the SA National Defence Force (SANDF)” a year.
Last year’s DoD Over-arching Annual Strategic Statement re-affirms the MSD system as part of the overall Human Resources Renewal Strategy of the SANDF and stresses it is “not part of a broad initiative for job creation”.
The Army, as the largest component of the SANDF, has taken up the majority – 1 333 – of the new intake with the SA Military Health Services getting 290, the SA Navy 224 and the SA Air Force (SAAF) 88.
In November the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans heard funding for MSD training had been reduced for the current financial year. In the light of this the 4 074 strong intake currently doing their second year of training would be have to be reduced.
“The DoD would achieve its targeted number of 4 208 recruits for the 2014/15 year” according to the minutes of that Portfolio Committee meeting. This implies another intake, probably in June this year, to bring MSD numbers up to over the 4 000 mark, also in line with the Strategic Statement’s forecast of 2 000 MSD volunteers per 12 month period.
In her foreword to the Strategic Statement, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula wrote that she has “directed prioritisation of the implementation of MSD as a component of the DoD’s social responsibility and a feeder system for force rejuvenation”.
Volunteers who make it through the MSD selection process spend their first year of training doing basic military and functional training, corps specific training, taking part in practical military exercises and doing combat ready training exercises. The final phase of the first year sees selection of junior leaders who then receive leader group corps training and undergo young officers’ formative training in the second year.
During the second year instructors and officers assigned to MSD identify suitable candidates to further their studies at the Military Academy.
Those who do not make it into the officer group focus on utilisation and deployment during the second year.
In terms of a service agreement the volunteers enter into with the SANDF they undertake to serve for five years in the Reserve Force on completion of their two years training.
In another, unrelated, training matter SANDF Director: Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said: “Some individuals who reported for basic military training at Infantry School and 3 SA Infantry Battalion did not meet the selection and recruitment criteria”.
This, he said, was the result of an administrative error in the selection and recruitment process.
“The SANDF is investigating the matter and if anyone is found responsible they will be held to account.
“The SANDF regrets the inconvenience caused, but those affected have to be sent home,” he said.