Yet another affirmation of the importance of the Reserve Force to the overall South African military machine has come from Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
She states, unequivocally: “The SANDF Reserves will remain the force to be reckoned with”.
The role of the Reserves is “critical” and has been confirmed as such by the Defence Review 2015 she writes in the latest Reserve Force Volunteer.
“This includes responsibility for augmenting the Regulars in ongoing operations, providing the expansion capability of the defence force for major combat operations and crisis response as well as providing specialist and scarce skills for the Department of Defence (DoD).
“The Reserves also play a role in enhancing the relationship between the defence force and the public and private sectors.
“In terms of the Defence Review, the Reserves are to provide a cost-effective mechanism for capacitating the defence force for operational surges. In addition the Reserves are suppliers of vital professional supportive expertise and certain skills that do not normally exist in the full-time structure of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).”
The Minister’s views on the Reserves are supported, she said by scholars “who confirm the most important factors of any Reserve Force in all militaries are that they are cost effective, they are used only when required and can be an immediate force multiplier.”
She also points out that the Reserves contribute “significantly” towards the overall SANDF mission.
“Out of 22,500 active Reserves, just over 14,500 are called up an annual basis for an average period of 183 days and many are deployed on border safeguarding operations,” she said adding the DoD had a responsibility towards the interests of the Reserves.
This included looking after their careers and providing them with appropriate skills and benefits.
“To this end the Reserve Force Regulations in support of the Defence Act are currently being reviewed and updated. Endeavours such as the university Reserve Training Programme (URTP), the Defence Provincial Liaison Councils (DPLCs) as well as the activing marketing and promotion of the Reserve Force service system should be continuously supported.”