The SA National Defence College’s replacement for the Executive National Security Programme (ENSP) – the Security and Defence Studies Programme (SDSP) – is underway at the Thaba Tshwane military learning institute.
It is, according to former College commandant Brigadier General (now Major General) Gordon Yekelo, one of the “quick wins” as regards implementation of proposals and recommendations made in the 2014 Defence Review.
He is quoted by the SANDF publication, SA Soldier, as saying the Department of Defence has to focus on the enhancement of both professional and academic qualifications of members, especially officers, as set out in a declaration of intent by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in her 2012 Defence Budget Vote address.
“This was followed through and institutionalised via the Defence Review.
“The introduction of the SDSP is probably one of the ‘quick wins’ in the implementation of Defence Review proposals. Its impact will be more profoundly felt over the next few years as the programme prepares members to address emerging challenges and craft and propose strategic responses.”
This, Yekelo, who is now General Officer Commanding Training Command, said, means successful SDSP candidates will be able to advise their principals on how to address defence and security challenges related to the four milestones set out in the Defence Review when they return to their places of work.
“They will be able to give relevant advice to the Department of Defence (DoD) to arrest the decline, to rebalance, capacitate and respond to strategic challenges,” he said adding he believed this was what the DoD expected from a National Defence College graduate.
The SDSP is presented at the National Defence College in collaboration with the Faculty of Military Science at the University of Stellenbosch. Officers and officials in the rank group of brigadier general/colonel or civilian equivalent are selected to attend from DoD and other government departments.
The SDSP curriculum prescribes study tours to regional and other countries to expose programme members to aspects of national security, including security policies and strategies. Study tours also broaden the horizon of programme members in terms of regional and global security trends and concepts, the SANDF publication reports.
In October last year Mapisa-Nqakula said work had started on implementation of the Defence Review, particularly Milestone One, arresting the decline in the SANDF, via two permanent planning streams. One works exclusively with policy and the other on development and both report to Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube.
In January Cabinet’s Security Cluster said in a statement implementation of “some” Milestone One recommendations in the Defence Review could present a challenge for the DoD because the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) does not make provision for funding them.
The cluster also warned further funding to ensure the SANDF is properly equipped and staffed in future will, in all likelihood, not be forthcoming from National Treasury “due to prevailing economic conditions”.
“This means consideration for alternative funding models must be taken,” a statement issued by the cluster following its January meeting said.