SANDF “deployable” soldier age up two years since 2019

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Sixty-five percent of soldiers eligible for deployment in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are younger than 45, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise told a Parliamentary questioner.

She informed Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) public representative Washington Mafanya this equated to 39 593 with a further 20 887 – 35% – older than that.

He also heard the present average age for “deployable members”, totalling 60 480, is 40. Five years ago, another Parliamentary question to the then defence and military veterans minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, brought to light the average age of the South African infantry soldier then was 38.

This is far away from the average age of 22 of soldiers in the Vietnam War (due to conscription) and the 27 of United States troops deployed in the Gulf War on 1990/91, as two examples.

South Africa is currently committed to three continental peacekeeping missions and soldiers are deployed internally on the border protection tasking Operation Corona, with another internal commitment to support police in curbing illegal mining said to over by the end of April.

Two of the continental deployments are under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) flag – in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as SAMIDRC (SADC Mission in DRC) and SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique – currently in a stand down phase ahead of ending operations in July). The third is the United Nations (UN) mission in the DRC – MONUSCO – also in drawdown stage ahead of a year-end operational closure. The total South African contingent approved for SAMIDRC is 2 900 while, with 1 495 committed to Mozambique and 1 135 wearing the blue helmets of UN peacekeepers in the DRC.