Some aspects of SANDF performance earn a “classified” rating in latest annual report


The Department of Defence annual report for the 2016/17 financial year, only made public late in November, provides reams of information on various deployments and operations undertaken in execution of the SA National Defence Force’s mandate. A worrying aspect is certain exclusions, rated “classified”.

In this category, under the heading “force employment”, are listed percentage compliance with force levels for external operations, serviceability of main equipment for external operations, value of reimbursement by AU/UN and self-sustainment of personnel. So South Africans will not know if their men and women in uniform were sufficient to perform properly on foreign soil or had the right equipment.

When it comes to areas such as air and maritime defence and military health, considered important enough to rate mentions as being in line with the Constitutional imperative of “making and keeping the people of South Africa safe” there are also a number of omissions rated “classified” which detract from the defence in a democracy concept.

Deemed “classified” in this section are the percentage compliance with joint force employment requirements as well as the broader health status of the SANDF and what the report terms the “trend of deployable status of concurrent health assessments” and the “percentage availability of medical stock”.

On the credit side of the ledger the annual report gives reasonable detail about the landward border protection deployment as well as general air and maritime defence. The continental peace support deployment to MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also features and other deployments into Africa are also reported on.

During the reporting period the SA Army prepared, provided and supported combat-ready force structure elements (FSEs) as part of external operations in the DRC to support the UN mission.
“A tactical headquarters of 142 (122 instructors and 20 administrative personnel) as part of Mission Thebe to Mura base in the DRC was responsible for individual and platoon weapon training of FARDC soldiers, culminating in an integrated exercise.”

August 2016 saw HQ 43 SA Brigade taking part in Exercise Utulivu Africa II. The exercise, presented by the AU, was aimed at practising operational readiness and inter-operability of the ACIRC (African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises) in the planning, procedures and execution of intervention operations in Africa. It was conducted with the 20th mechanised brigade of the Angolan armed Forces in Angola’s Bengo province and also involved Rwanda, Chad and Tanzania.

Border safeguarding operations under Operation Corona saw 15 sub-units (companies) deployed along South Africa’s landward borders in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West.

Defence diplomacy activities executed in support of government policy included an ACIRC meeting, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Inter-State Defence and Security Committee as well as support to the third session of the multinational commission between South Africa, Botswana, Senegal, Malaysia, United Kingdom, France and Nigeria.