A major revamp of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Reserve Force system is complete and awaiting signature before implementation starts. In the interim, the current system is being enhanced.
This is seen as a major improvement to the part-time soldier system where the cost-efficiency of Reserve Force utilisation sees it meet half of current border deployment needs while consuming just six percent of the total Department of Defence human resource budget. Expectations are the new system will also further cement the “one force” concept where both Reserve and full-time components of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are seen as integral to meeting constitutional obligations as well as specific taskings set by Cabinet and approved by the Commander-in-Chief.
Included in changes to the current systems are alterations to the call-up system, brought about in part by escalating instances of call-up fraud, and a new service contact for South Africa’s part-time soldiers.
One of the major changes will in future see “call-up by committee” as opposed to the old system where whomever was called up and for what period of time was in the hands of a single officer. This emerged from the report of the board of inquiry into fraudulent Reserve Force call-ups which has been handed to SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam.
Major General Roy Andersen, SANDF Chief Reserves, said the board of inquiry made 39 recommendations and “it looks like they will all be implemented”.
He said preparation for the new policy made provision for what he termed “a tidy up” of the Persol system. This would see up to 2 500 names removed from the Reserve Force active list, including some who are deceased and others who have past the age where they can be on active service, again cutting down unnecessary expense and assisting in making the Reserve a leaner, meaner machine.
Indications are the proposed new policy will make provision for expanding the pool of specialists in the Reserve Force. This is where highly qualified men and women are registered as Reserve Force members and utilised for their specific skills, which range from accounting, budgeting and medical through to veterinary. If kept in-house as full-time SANDF members, these skills would not be utilised to anywhere near the extent their remuneration would cost and would be grossly inefficient in financial terms. Using such scarce skills as and when needed on a Reserve Force call-up basis is seen as better financial practice.
An analysis notes the Reserve Force is exceeding targets in some areas as regards transformation and gender representation.
“In the more senior ranks there is still white male dominance while the lower ranks has a shortage of this group,” Andersen said adding the Reserve Force was “just about” there on female representation, where it stands at 27% against a target of 30%.
Reserve Force members currently part of the URTP (University Reserve Training Programme) will all be commissioned as junior officers by year-end.
It is anticipated far-reaching changes will be incorporated into the new system, expected to be announced in the fourth quarter of this year.