SAAF to implement new command structure

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The South African Air Force is to implement a new command structure in the near future .Speaking at the Air Force Day Parade held at Zwartkop airbase near Centurion on 28 January, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, Chief of the Air Force, said that in January the Air Force Command Council had taken the decision to implement the “restructuring of the Air Force to comply with the Air Staff 1 to 9 concept.”

This was seen as a priority and one of the matters “impacting on the SA Air Force and its members to ensure service delivery,” Gagiano added. The current command structure of the Air Force was implemented in December 1999. This consists of a Chief of the Air Force (CAF), an Air Force Office and an Air Command. As described by the SAAF, the Air Force Office lies on Level 2 in the Department of Defence (DoD) structures and is situated in the Air Force Headquarters in Pretoria. The CAF is responsible to the Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), sitting on Level 1 of the DoD structure. The role of the Air Force Office is to prepare and supply combat ready air forces. In this role CAF is supported by various directorates also situated in Air Force Headquarters.

The Air Command lies on Level 3 in the DOD structure (under the Air Force Office) and is also situated at Air Force Headquarters. The purpose of the Air Command is to execute the plans and policies created by the Air Force Office. In other words it translates the strategic plans into executable business plans, according to the allocated resources. The Air Command is commanded by the General Officer Commanding Air Command (GOC).

With a few senior SAAF members having retired towards the end of 2010, the Air Force Executive Committee is headed by the Chief of the Airforce, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano. Under him is Major General Zakes Msimang (Chief Director Air Policy and Plans) and Major General Gerald Malinga (GOC Air Command). Falling under the GOC is Major General J Pelser (Chief Director Force Development and Support) and Major General Tsoku Kumalo (Chief Director Force Preparation).

Under the current organisational structure, many of the staff functions found at Air Force Headquarters is duplicated at Base level as well. This results in numerous meetings and forums which, according to senior members of the SAAF, take up too much time. As explained by Gagiano: “Where the GOC is now responsible for all the meetings as well, he will have one function and that is to execute the plan. There will be a plan drawn up by the Air Staff and the GOC and all the bases and units must just execute that plan.”

Under the Air Staff 1 to 9 concept, the Air Force will be organised into different ‘joint’ structures, with 1 equating to Personnel/HR, 2 is Intelligence, 3 being Operations, etc. Major General Gerald Malinga, GOC Air Command, described the implementation of the new structure as being in alignment with the DoD Joint principle: “Internally in the Air Force, there is going to be a flatter structure, there is going to be more responsibility and accountability and there is also going to be a smaller HQ. We will have the CAF, then below him in the command line, the GOC Air who will be responsible for the bases and units. On the administrative side, we have the Air Staff, where we have the Chief of Air Staff and below the Chief of Air Staff, the other Air Staff functions, the A1 to 9.”
“Thus, Air Staff 1 speaks to the Base person responsible for that,” added Gagiano. However, the new structure will require some personnel movements. “We might definitely move some of the posts,” Gaginao said, “in the time we came out with the GSB (General Service Base), we lost a lot of people and we didn’t get them back when the GSB was terminated. So we need to staff a whole lot of posts at our bases.” Bases that would require the most attention include Bloemspruit, Ysterplaat and Durban.



As Gagiano stated in his Air Force Day address, the airforce had no choice but to become smaller: “This must offer us an opportunity to be innovative in how we do our work. This means we must work smart.”