The one force concept that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) continually strives for is aptly illustrated by the upcoming SA Joint Air Defence Symposium (SAJADS), which spreads the concept wider to embrace certain government departments, the research and development community and the world’s largest radio telescope.
This, Rear Admiral (JG) Karl Wiesner explained at a pre-symposium briefing, was in line with the symposium theme of “integrated joint air defence in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)”.
“The vision that has driven SAJADS since 1997 (when the first symposium was held) is its ability to support the air defence fraternity. This includes local and foreign stakeholders from armed forces, industry, defence institutes and acquisition agencies by providing a platform and forum for discussion on matters pertaining to air defence in southern Africa and on the African continent.”
He said eight individual topics will make up the overall discussion space. These are creating awareness of joint air defence (JAD); discussing JAD requirements, products and technology; conveying the value of JAD to senior decision makers in both the policy and budget areas; promoting jointness in SADC; promoting jointness between SANDF arms of service and divisions; exposing SANDF personnel not involved in projects and the acquisition environment to industry; growing and exposing future leaders; and educating all stakeholders to JAD requirements, products and technology.
They dovetail into the aim of the symposium – to highlight key areas of military and industrial participation nationally and in SADC to achieve an indigenous JAD. This year’s symposium at the CSIR Conference Centre in Pretoria from September 10 to 12 will also incorporate the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) plan to enhance indigenisation, Wiesner said.
The DTI involvement will be against the backdrop of its revised Industrial Action Plan and the decision to place a major part of the international Square kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in South Africa.
“Many of the capabilities needed for the SKA as also applicable to joint air defence in the southern African region,” Wiesner said.
In terms of SADC and the DTI, particular emphasis will be placed on the regional mutual defence pact as far as co-operation on defence and security is concerned in the areas of conflict resolution, military preparedness, collective self-defence and action, destabilising factors and dispute settlement.
Interest in the symposium is high and at least 300 delegates, some from as far afield as the Ukraine and Belarus are expected to hear 18 papers covering various aspects of air defence.
“Our speakers will cover air defence capability from the point of view of equipment, people and training. These are essential if JAD is to be implemented successfully,” he said.