The SANDF rejuvenates

The South African National Defence Force has in five years dramatically changed the age and health profile of its junior ranks, the Department of Defence says in its annual report.
In 2002 just 7% of the SANDF’s privates and seamen complied with the required age specification that states that personnel in that rank group should not be older than 24 years. The report says the figure now exceeds 43% of the regular force and 51% of the total force.
“This has had a major impact upon the medical fitness and combat-readiness of members within this rank group, specifically within the SA Army.”
The report ascribes the change to the implementation of the DoD`s Human Resources 2010 Strategy and the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) that recruits SA youths for two years of fulltime military service followed by a further period in the Reserve Force.
“The MSDS remains the primary mechanism through which the Department contributes towards structured military skills development, as well as occupational-functional skills development and leadership development amongst the youth.
“Furthermore, the MSDS is functioning as an important transformational mechanism to impart appropriate representivity in the SANDF, with 96% of its members being young, black South Africans and 31% being female.
“The Department is working to expand the MSDS to 10 000 new recruits over the MTEF period, to ensure a continuous output of suitably qualified, fit and healthy young soldiers until the rejuvenation requirements of both the Regular and Reserve Forces have been met.
“The infusion of young, fit and healthy [personnel] into the SANDF through the MSDS is a direct
contributing factor towards the SANDF`s operational readiness and the success of the Republic`s defence service delivery in peace support operations. This rejuvenation effort is visibly demonstrated through sustainable peace support operations that are being conducted in the African region and through force preparation exercises.
The report notes that since inception 20 288 young South Africans have volunteered their services. Of the 1 882 that completed their contracts in December 2007, 1 648 accepted Core Service System (CSS) contracts. Ninety-four of the July 2006 intake, as well as 100 of the January 2007 intake have accepted CSS contracts before completion of their two-year MSDS contract periods. The July 2007 intake was 779 strong and 2 406 recruits reported for duty during in January 2008.