Media statement: Meyer: Defence Review


The purpose of today’s engagement is to publically release a consultative draft of the Defence Review which will form the basis for extensive public engagement on the short and long-term Defence Policy of South Africa, identify defence objectives and specify defence functions, and pronounce on the strategic defence posture, defence capabilities, defence alliances and security institutions or mechanisms that will govern the operations of the Defence Force.


The Defence Review Committee met for the first time at the Castle of Good Hope on 13 July 2011 at which the Minister provided the Committee with its Mandate and Terms of Reference. In order to develop an independent perspective on the short and long-term defence policy, the Defence Review Committee has adopted a seven-phase process to meet the mandate given by the Minister. These phases are in brief as follows:

Phase 1: Diagnostic and Orientation Process.

Phase 2: Definition of Thematic Areas and determination of the Document Architecture.

Phase 3: Drafting of the Consultative Document.

Phase 4: Document Review and Refinement.

Phase 5: Public Engagement on the Consultative Document.

Phase 6: Prepare the Final Document.

Phase 7: Engage in the Formal Approval Process.


The 1998 Defence Review was, for obvious reasons, preoccupied with the integration of both the statutory and non-statutory armed forces after the negotiated transition in 1994. It addressed matters of transformation and the normalisation of security relations in the Southern African Region. It attempted to provide the first policy foundations for a “Defence in a Democracy”. It further took a very conservative approach to the deployment of the Defence Force in pursuit of regional security, envisaging that South Africa would only contribute a single battalion to peace keeping operations. Within a short number of years South Africa’s commitment had grown substantially beyond this level.

This Defence Review moves significantly beyond the narrow and internal focus of the 1998 Defence Review. It unpacks the constitutional mandate, other statutes, South Africa’s international obligations and work that government expects the Defence Force to do.

Its departure point is that the Defence Force exists to fulfil a very important role in society and it unpacks what that role is. It thus unpacks five (5) strategic Defence Goals and fifteen (15) high-level Defence Tasks. These broad strategic goals include:

The Defence and Protection of South Africa, its people and important national interests.

The Safeguarding of South Africa and its people through aspects such as border safeguarding, supporting the Police Service and fulfilling South Africa’s treaty obligations.

The Defence contribution to South Africa’s international agenda and the promotion of regional and continental peace and stability.

Supporting civil authority in times of crisis, need or turmoil, and the Defence contribution to South Africa’s developmental priorities.

The civil control over Defence and the accountable utilisation of defence resources.

The Defence Review posits the level of effort required for South Africa to meet these strategic goals and high-level tasks, the core defence capabilities required and provides comprehensive guidelines for the Defence Force Design.

It is important to note that the Defence Review does not express itself on the Defence Force Design or the Defence Force Structure. The Chief of the Defence Force will develop a Blueprint Force Design and Force Structure in a subsequent process.


The Defence Review discusses the Defence contribution to national security and foreign policy objectives by distinguishing between the domestic and regional dimension of national security.

Such security objectives include the defence of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the South African state and the promotion of regional and continental security in Southern Africa. South Africa accords central importance to the Region and the Continent; working with countries of the South to address shared challenges of underdevelopment, poverty, promoting global equity and social justice; working with countries of the North to develop an effective partnership for a better world; and strengthening the multilateral system. 

The struggle for a better life in South Africa is intertwined with the pursuit of a better Africa in a better world. Regional and Continental integration is the foundation for Africa’s socio-economic development and political unity, and essential for South Africa’s prosperity and security. Consequently, Africa is at the centre of South Africa’s foreign and security policy. South Africa must therefore continue to support Regional and Continental processes to respond to and resolve crises, strengthen regional integration, significantly increase intra-African trade, and champion sustainable development and opportunities in Africa.


The Defence Review does not limit itself to high-level policy and strategy matters. Although it does address these comprehensively, it also focuses its attention on matters of defence doctrine, defence capabilities, defence structural arrangements and the accounting for resources provided. The Defence Review thus:

Firstly, sets a long term policy and strategy agenda for Defence that will set the stage for the next thirty years of defence effort. This does not mean that the Defence Review will not be reviewed and augmented in the next decade, but that it provides a stable base against which long term plans can be set and budgets aligned with its intent.

Secondly, it is reasonably comprehensive and detailed by engaging defence matters at a strategic level without digressing into the operational and tactical level of debate.

Thirdly, it pronounces sufficiently on the continuum of policy, strategy, structure and force design needed to set a stable long term defence planning agenda.

Fourthly, it express high level defence doctrine.

Fifthly, it requires the Defence Force to unpack the Defence Review into concrete long-term plans and programmes.

The Defence Review adopts a very straightforward internal logic. This is comprised of:

An understanding of the South African State, its people, its systems and geography and establishes the unique challenges facing South Africa as a Democratic Developmental State.

An understanding of the global, continental, regional and domestic security environments and some of the implications thereof for South Africa. The future spectrum of conflict is defined, expressing a range of contingencies which may arise.

Contemporary defence expenditure is unpacked at the global, African and Regional levels.

The emergent national security strategy is expressed as a construct and the national interests of South Africa are outlined. This culminates in five strategic national security effects which must be pursued by all forms of national power in South Africa.

The Defence Mandate emanating from the Constitution and other Statutes is unpacked into a Defence Mission, Strategic Goals and Key Defence Tasks. Each task is expressed in terms of its defence effect.

Force design guidelines are given, concomitant supporting defence concepts proposed and high-order defence capabilities expressed.

The Defence Mandate, Mission, Strategic Goals and Tasks are systematically unpacked to determine the scale of defence effort required for each and the concomitant defence capability requirements. This scale of effort will remain the fundamental basis for the development of the force design. Many countries would describe the scale of Defence Effort as the “level of defence ambition”.

The future defence organisation is posited, ranging from the key tenets for the Ministry of Defence, the repositioning of the Defence Secretariat and the establishment of command and staff arrangements for the Defence Force.

A number of important and key interventions are determined, based on the observations of the Defence Review Committee during its diagnostic and orientation process.

The high-level strategies for defence resources are proposed.

Lastly, the fundamentals of the future defence and procurement strategies are provided, the focus areas and strategic and niche areas identified and the future positioning of the defence industry is discussed.


It is important to emphasise that the Defence Review Committee was appointed as an independent body to pronounce independently on future defence policy and strategy. The draft released today is open for comments and proposals and the Committee will be engaging with the broader South African society to draw on the best possible consensus on the future defence trajectory. Key stakeholders, including the Defence Force, partners and communities around the country will be consulted.

In this regard: a number of consultation events will be conducted in the period leading up to the Minister’s Budget Vote on 17 May 2012, starting with a meeting with the Portfolio Committee of Parliament on Wednesday, 18 April.

Thereafter the Defence Review Committee will proceed with the consultation process through provincial IMBIZO’s and stakeholder engagements until the end of June 2012.

This engagement will enable the Defence Review Committee to draw on a breadth of expertise and engage with views from a cross section of South African society to assist in pronouncing on the short and long-term Defence Policy of South Africa and on what South Africans expect from their National Defence Force.


Enquiries: Jaco Theunissen

Cell No: 083 633 3179

Email: [email protected]