The South African military contribution to the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force will be combat ready by end of June, according to the chief of the South African Army.
SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo said that the final strength of the ACIRC contribution from South Africa will be 1 800 personnel when they finally deploy. This will include personnel from all four arms of service. However, the final number will vary according to the tasks they are given.
“Our country is at the forefront of the establishment of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) to deal with security challenges on the continent, and those of you who managed to witness our ACIRC force preparation exercise; Exercise Seboka, would have seen the amount of work already put into operationalising our pledged force towards this initiative,” Masondo said.
“Last year’s exercise went well, beyond expectations, and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans also indicated during her budget vote that the SANDF’s pledged force will reach an interim operational capacity by 30 September 2015, with full operational capacity by 30 November this year. As custodians of force preparation and provision, the SA Army is ready to ensure that this force eventually attains full operational capacity.
“As you all know, ACIRC is a multi-national initiative of the African Union, and volunteering nations have started with preparations to build this capacity until such time that the African Standby Force is confirmed and in place.”
Masondo said that funding is the area where the Army has been struggling with regarding ACIRC, as its contributions to ACIRC have been established with internal resources. “If we were in the event to deploy we hope additional resources would be employed to allow us to do this.”
The South African contribution includes a battalion comprised of mostly 9 South African Infantry Battalion in Cape Town and including four rifle companies, a supply company and anti-aircraft defence, armour, mechanised, logistics and engineering elements.
ACIRC was launched at the 21st African Union Summit in 2013 as a force to be assembled by volunteer states that would enable the AU to deal rapidly with crises, avoiding reliance on foreign powers to intervene in conflicts such as in the Central African Republic and Mali where the French are heavily involved.
ACIRC is an interim measure until the African Union’s African Standby Force (ASF) is established – a process that is taking years. The ASF is AU-funded whereas ACIRC is funded by South Africa and other volunteer states.