Ruth First Detachment graduates from SA National War College


The last day of November saw 81 SA National Defence Force (SANDF) officers graduate after they were “found competent” by instructors at the SA National War College (SANWC) in Irene, Centurion.

The intake for this year’s Joint Senior Command Staff Programme was, according to Ad Astra editor Captain Tebogo August, known as the Ruth First Detachment.

The 47 week-long programme started with 82 lieutenant colonels/commanders representing the four SANDF services and divisions, both in the national defence force and in the Department of Defence (DoD).

Ahead of graduates being presented with the necessary documentation as proof of competency, SANWC Commandant, Brigadier General Nelson Dlamini, told them their time at the former St George’s Hotel came “with unrelenting academic and professional pressure purposely designed to, through approved curricula, develop the officers’ faculties in a balanced manner”.

The Ruth First Detachment’s introduction to the SANDF higher education facility started with an induction week with skills development the priority after this. This is in line with the JSCSP aim of preparing “selected officers for senior appointments at the operational level of war, with a distinctive overlap to the military strategic level, by developing command and analytical skills and broadening professional understanding of single service, joint, combined and multinational operations, management and defence”.

Officers delegated to the programme are equipped with skills to deal with the complexities and management of defence in peace support missions as well as in aspects of disaster management.

DoD Human Resource Division supremo, Vice Admiral Asiel Kubu, reportedly told the detachment it was important to acknowledge those “selected for this prestige programme should consider themselves privileged”.

“As locally and internationally selected officers from various services and specialisations, brought together to study together and share expertise in a truly joint and multinational environment, I hope you value the opportunity. You gained great exposure not accessible to many as experience has shown participation of international scholars in learning programmes such as these, add value to the outcomes.

“This was an opportunity to establish and forge valuable long-lasting relationships that will benefit you in your future appointments and careers. To the Ruth First Detachment, go out there and make a significant difference as new specialists in warfare because there is no doubting the challenges posed by modern wars and warfare as well as their devastating effects on peace and security at national, regional and international levels,” Kubu told the graduation ceremony.

Ruth First was a South African activist, scholar and journalist opposed to the previous government’s policies. Married to Joe Slovo she was killed in Maputo, Mozambique, by a letter bomb apparently sent by then South African security operatives, in August 1982.