Going on for four months after Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, Director: Army Reserves, indicated only i’s had to be dotted and t’s crossed before an announcement would be made on new names for at least 40 Reserve Force units, there is still no official word.
The name change project for Reserve Force units aims to bring them into line with democratic South Africa. Speaking at a briefing hosted by SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, Kamffer indicated “more South African names” would be given to units and/or regiments with colonial names.
The name changes will apparently not affect all SA Army Reserve Force units with 26 set to maintain the status quo.
While there have not been leaks on the issue, Reserve Force units such as the SA Irish, Cape Town Highlanders and Transvaal Scottish are obvious targets when it comes to “removing manifestations of colonialism” a no longer serving Reserve Force officer told defenceWeb.
He said serving Reserve Force members he had spoken to indicated there was nothing to do but acknowledge the name changes with the proviso that regiment histories were not “fiddled with”.
The newsletter of the Cape Town Rifles gives some insight in a contribution titled “Change and how to deal with it”.
“In our Regiment, we have been buffeted and tossed about in a sea of uncertainty, brought on by huge changes in that which was previously perceived to be a rigid, unfaltering colossus built on 162 years of tradition and fit for purpose structure. Herein lies the rub, we were no longer fit for purpose and as a wily politician of a past era, so succinctly put it ‘adapt or die’.
“How we manage this critical change will ensure our continued survival and our shift in paradigm is crucial to this process.
“The greatest danger and most morally repugnant manifestation is the constant flow of vitriolic rumour mongering, which seems to beset our family at this time. It is of the utmost importance communication, down to ground level, is conducted with an open and honest approach.
“‘Keep the man on the ground informed’ a maxim no longer deemed a requirement, is more important now than ever before.
“The regiment has weathered the storms of two Anglo Boer wars, the advent of Union, two world wars, the birth of the Republic and the change from a totalitarian state to one based on democratic norms and values with the most advanced constitution in the democratic world.
“We will embrace such change as is required, now and in the future, to ensure our Regiment, which has had no less than five different names throughout its illustrious history, continues to execute the mandate it has aspired to since 1855, namely to serve the people of this great Country and help unlock its true potential.”
DefenceWeb has to date had no response to requests for information on Reserve Force name changes sent to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s office and the head of communication in the Department of Defence this year.