SANDF lacks overall simulation policy

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While there are ardent adherents of simulation in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) they are currently hamstrung by the lack of an overall policy as regards the beneficial use of this tool in, among others, training and mission planning.

Acknowledging this during his opening remarks to the International Training and Simulation for Homeland Security conference in Thaba Tshwane today, Major General Barney Hlatshwayo said it was time for the SANDF to “formalise” the use of simulation across all four arms of service.

Keynote speaker Brigadier General (Dr) Willie Wagner, Commandant of the SANDF College of Educational Technology (COLET), pointed out simulation was “only mentioned four times” in the 2013 Defence Review and not one of these was in connection with training.
“There is no simulation game plan in the SANDF. There is a lack of guidance and there is also no policy as regards simulation in the SANDF,” the man who has 19 years of experience in military simulation told the opening session of the two day conference.
“The SANDF must have a governing body for simulation to determine a master plan for its implementation across all four arms of service,” he said.

Hlatshwayo, generally accepted as being the “guardian of simulation” in the force in his position as chief director: operations development at SANDF Joint Operations, asked to conference to come up with a formal plan that can then, via his office, go to SANDF Operational Staff headquarters and the Military Command.
“This will open the door for a strategy to be developed to use simulation to its fullest extent throughout the SANDF,” he said.

He was also adamant the money saved by making more use of simulation in training, at whatever level, and mission planning, whether internal or external, must stay in the defence environment.
“We can save money on aspects such as peace missions, disaster relief, border protection and others but this money must remain available to the SANDF.”

In terms of savings Wagner pointed out that a simulated brigade level exercise would cost around two percent of a similar live field exercise.
“In this regard it is clear the SANDF can spend thousands while saving millions, but a guiding body with access to the appropriate technology is essential and it must stretch across all four arms of service.”



Both he and Hlatshwayo appealed to the conference to come up with a resolution that will pave the way forward for the use of simulation in the SANDF.
“Currently simulation resides under the Training Command but there is a feeling it should be part of Joint Operations’ mandate. After all there is where planning is done for external and internal missions and operations. The input of this gathering can assist in showing the way forward for simulation in the SANDF,” Hlatshwayo said.