SANDF rejuvenating through MSDS

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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is rejuvenating its ranks through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) recruitment drive, with the latest intake reporting for duty this month.

The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCODMV), having considered the 2019/20 budget allocation of the Department of Defence & Military Veterans (DODMV) against its Annual Performance Plans, issued a number of recommendations for implementation by the Department. Among these recommendations was that the Department must prioritise the rejuvenation of the SA National Defence Force, a process that began a few years ago through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) recruitment drive, the SA Army said.

The 3rd of January 2020 saw over a thousand young people of all races from the different corners of the country descend on Oudtshoorn as part of the government’s plan for the SA National Defence Force’s Rejuvenation Programme through the Military Skills Development System intake process. These young people were transported from all the country’s nine provinces, having successfully applied to the department and has met its minimum requirements. They gathered in Oudtshoorn at the SA Army Infantry School where they underwent medical assessments and other rigorous tests to ensure that they were at least eligible to enlist as part of the SA Army 2020 intake.

On Friday the 17 January, the Chief of the SA Army Corporate Services, Major General T.T. Xundu formally welcomed the candidates to the Pride of Lions, on behalf of both the Chiefs of the SA National Defence Force and SA Army, respectively.

Xundu, who was accompanied by the Officer-Commanding SA Army Infantry School, Colonel D.M. Madie Acting Officer Commanding 3 SA Army Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Madikizela SO1 SA Army Corporate Communication, Major S.S.S. Vilakazi RSM SA Army Corporate Services, Master Warrant Officer de Koeker and the Acting RSM SA Army Infantry School, Senior Warrant Officer Felix; was candid enough with the candidates and informed them that over the next few months, their tenacity, commitment, character and discipline will be tested, the SA Army said.

The General noted there was a very good representation of female candidates which he said was yet another manifestation of the government’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunities to all sections of the population.

“Dear recruits, your calling as soldiers in the National Defence Force calls for continuous training and personal sacrifice to ensure effective performance and efficient discharge of your duties. Equally important, you must distinguish yourselves by carrying out your duty with integrity, discipline and deference to authority. You must adhere to every norm, rule and law that governs your operations and you must be loyal to your superiors and peers. Indeed, my message to you today is, you must be above reproach,” he said.

The Chief SA Army Corporate Services also stressed the fact that the military community, as an integral part of the broader South African society is not necessarily immune to the rampant crime that afflicts South Africa. He however cautioned and urged the candidates to desist from participation in any atrocious activities such as fraud, corruption, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

He concluded by wishing them the best of luck in their military careers.

Defence expert and Director at African Defence Review Darren Olivier said the annual MSDS intake results in a stream of young, fit, healthy, and eager young men and women entering the army, navy, air force, medical health service yearly, to become soldiers, pilots, mechanics, medics, sailors, and so much more.

“It’s a good system,” he said. “If you think back to the stories from the early 2000s about the awful state of the SA Army’s combat units and how many were undeployable, the MSDS (introduced in 2003) is the reason that was turned around. Between 1994 and 2003 there was a recruiting freeze to cope with integration.



“As a result the rank and file infantry grew older and less deployable. By allowing them to retire and slowly replacing the enlisted and junior officer ranks with fresh recruits, the age, fitness, health, and deploy ability stats of combat units improved massively from 2003 onward.”