Pool of Specialists in the Army Reserve


The utilisation of scarce skills in the service of the South African military can be seen in the Pool of Specialists (PoS) approach which, in the case of the SA Army, aims to enhance, develop and augment capacity in the landward force.

The summer edition of the Reserve Force Volunteer points out the single largest component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has lost much of its professional research capability over the last decade.
“Consequently, members are appointed to the PoS according to their functional skillsets and the needs of the SA Army,” the publication states, adding this approach is taken because it is a cost effective method of addressing skills shortages.

PoS members are appointed in specialist posts and paid according to academic qualifications and experience. Remuneration is coupled to their functional rank and the time spent on research. The publication gives the example of a professor (speciality not disclosed) given the rank of captain in the latest PoS signed up and who took part in a recent week-long PoS induction programme.

While they are in uniform because of their expertise in areas such as internal audit control, legal and labour relations, technical knowledge of post-conflict reconstruction and development projects as well as various engineering disciplines, architecture and psychology, PoS members do a certain amount of military training. This is by way of an abridged military orientation course because, as the Reserve Force publication puts it, “the Army’s interest is limited only to the member’s professional knowledge and its application in the Army”.

PoS members are not required to undergo “extensive formal military training” such as that done by military skills development volunteers. They start with basic military training before going on to specialist training in the specific units they have been assigned to for the duration of their two years’ service.

The publication also notes “the PoS plays a particularly important role in the SA Army and this group of experts can also be important in the new Reserve Force service system”.

PoS members are called up for service as and when needs and projects dictate.