In common with the other arms of service in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the Navy constantly battles to maximise minimal resources to meet demands set by its political masters.
One of these areas is that of revitalising the reserve component across the SANDF as identified as a defence priority by previous Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, in the Defence Amendment Act of December 2010.
Vice Admiral Mosuwa Samuel Hlongwane has been at the helm of the Navy for four months since taking over from Johannes Mudimu and he expounded his views on the importance of the Navy Reserve to the Reserve Force Volunteer.
“All tangible means will be utilised within our budget to continue the revitalisation and transformation of the Navy Reserves so they can stand shoulder to shoulder with their regular counterparts as one force. The ‘One Force’ concept implies a sense of good relationships, consistency and shared perception, not as a matter of administration but as a core of our identity,” Hlongwane said, adding the Navy’s professionalism was its greatest challenge.
The Navy would continue doing “everything possible” to meet the Ministerial priority.
“Reserves are continually identified to build a Reserve Force that is disciplined, capable and ready for deployment.
“The Navy Reserves are an important element in the defence and security network of our nation. Additionally, SAN Reserves are an integral part of the SAN and an economic force multiplier. The majority of these members carry out duties in critical SAN musterings while some perform support functions.”
The only vice admiral in the country pointed out South Africans who volunteered as Reserve Force soldiers were “twice the citizens” others are.
“Every day they go about their daily tasks in the private sector and they are also prepared to serve our country in defence of its territory and Constitution.”
Hlongwane said the Navy since the beginning of this year had the benefit of a graduate. He is currently working in the Naval Engineering Section (NES) and was recruited via the Reserve Force’s University Reserve Training Programme (URTP).
The South African Air Force is also focusing on reserves. SAAF chief Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang earlier this year said that the SAAF was committed to the use of the reserve force in light of budgetary constraints and has consistently used, trained and developed “this cost effective segment of our human capital.”
The SAAF chief added that the rollout of the University Reserve Training Programme is continuing in the SAAF and that the SAAF College has established a Reserve Training section dedicated to training University Reserve Training Programme students.
“The SAAF is doing everything possible to remove all the remaining obstacles that keep our Reserve Force Squadrons grounded. I need the Reserve Squadrons to get back to flying in order to add capacity to the SAAF’s core business, especially against the background of our ever-increasing responsibilities and commitments in support of the South African government’s peace initiatives on the African continent.”