The contribution made by the Reserve Force in bringing about the Constitutional imperative of making all South Africans feel safe has been recognised with a more than half a million increase in the number of man-days allocated to the country’s part-time soldiers in the coming financial year.
The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) tabled in Parliament as part of the national budget show 1 883 683 man-days for the Reserve Force in the financial year ending on March 31. This is upped by 559 129 for the 2015/16 financial cycle to stand at 2 442 792. The next financial cycle (2016/17) sees the number of Reserve Force man-days drop slightly to 2 418 225 but it increases again in the final year of the medium term expenditure estimates to 2 442 206.
This will see an increasing number of reserves deployed both continentally and locally, where border protection in the form on the ongoing Operation Corona is a major SA National Defence Force (SANDF) commitment.
While the exact number of Reserve Force companies deployed at any one time on border protection is not divulged, the mix between regulars and reserves varies, but there is always Reserve Force representation on South Africa’s borders. As one example, a company from the Cape Town Highlanders was the first to deploy during the 2014/15 financial year on the Namibia/South Africa border.
The ENE for defence indicates the number of deployed sub-units (companies) for border protection currently stand at 13 and will remain at this number for the medium term until the end of the 2017/18 financial cycle.
Reserve Force units are also regularly deployed as part of continental peacekeeping and peace support missions as part of UN or hybrid AU/UN missions.
All told, an informed source indicates 15 000 of the current 22 000 active Reserve Force members will have completed an average of 183 days duty by Tuesday March, 31, the end of this financial year.
The additional man-days allocated to the Reserve Force should also eliminate any possible closure of the SA Air Force Museum and its branches in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Last October saw the unexpected closure of the museum headquarters at AFB Zwartkop and one satellite museum at AFB Port Elizabeth.
The closure was necessitated by what the Air Force command called an “overall safety and security appreciation at SAAF museums”. The lack of available man-days for SAAF Reserves, who makes up the majority of SAAF Museum personnel, was also cited as a contributing factor to the closure.