More proof of the value add provided by the Reserve Force to meeting SA National Defence Force (SANDF) operational commitments comes from Major General Roy Andersen, Chief: Defence Reserves.
More than 14 200 Reserves were called up for duty in the 2012/13 financial year for an average of 61 days each.
“The Infantry Formation made 30 Reserve companies available for deployment in external peace support operations and a further 28 companies were deployed for border protection,” Andersen said, adding that all four arms of service were making “extensive and effective use” of Reserves.
The wider utilisation of Reserve Force elements in support of the full-time component of the SANDF has been welcomed by SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo.
“There is now an awareness of the Reserves as an integral part of the Army in terms of the One Force approach, as never before. This is entirely due to the fact that Reserves are playing an important role in the Army despite all the limiting factors against the rebuilding of the Reserves,” he said.
Apart from external and border protection duties, Reserves have also been called up to support work done by other government departments. An example of this is the customs and excise section of SA Revenue Services.
Masondo is adamant all means at his disposal within budgetary and other constraints will be used to continue rejuvenation and transformation of the Army Reserves so “they can stand shoulder to shoulder with their Regular Force counterparts”.
“The contribution the Reserves make to our military efforts and the nation-building role they play in maintaining supportive and respectful relations with the military and civilian population is fully appreciated. The SA Army cannot do what is expected of it without the support of the Reserves. As part of the One Force its efforts are appreciated in building up an effective and combat-ready SA Army,” said the three star general at the head of the SANDF’s landward arm.
An example of the nation-building aspect of the work done by the Reserves comes from an Operation Corona deployment comprising a battalion of Western Cape Army Reserve Force units drawn from the Cape Town Rifles and the Cape Town Highlanders.
While deployed on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border in and around Musina, an outreach programme initiated by Captain Mark van Zyl benefitted the Masisi community.
After identifying a particular need a duly electedall-soldier committee was established with fundraising as objective number one.
“A team of builders, masons, painters, carpenters and sign writers was soon assembled. The result of their work and that of the fundraisers was the Masisi Community Crèche, furnished with items such as curtains, mattresses, tables, chairs, shelving and microwaves – all acquired courtesy of generous contributions from members of the Dukes. This moved one prominent member of the community to say: ‘I never knew soldiers were capable of doing something like this. In all my life I have never seen such a thing,'” Van Zyl said.
The outreach initiative did not detract in any way from the border protection tasking of the Reserve battalion. Apart from stopping and handing over numerous illegal immigrants to the correct authorities, soldiers confiscated “dozens of vehicles” and contraband valued at close on R24 million.
Picture: Reserve force members sharpening their fighting in built-up area (Fibua) skills.