Border safeguarding is a Department of Defence priority

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In its strategic plan for the five year period ending 2025, the Department of Defence (DoD) focuses on a number of issues it sees affecting and influencing the South African military.

One is the military with the plan noting “the nature of conflict is evolving and the distinction that separates military responses from other containment measures is becoming increasingly blurred”. It also points out the operational environment of the future will be “increasingly complex”.

Against this background, the strategy gives some detail on the involvement of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in maintaining the country’s territorial sovereignty.

South Africa’s borders,” the strategy presented to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) states, “are the physical manifestation of its national sovereignty, comprising land, air, maritime and cyber domains internationally recognised by law and remain under the physical control and political authority of the South African state”.

“Current social and security challenges in South African society are a reflection of the pressures on social services and a lack of adequate resources to meet them.

“Porous borders, inadequate migration control and immigration processes, smuggling of small arms and light weapons, criminal syndicates trafficking in stolen goods and property, the illegal sale of South Africa’s natural resources and proximity of terror groups remain relevant challenges.

“Securing South Africa’s borders remains a matter of national security requiring adequate resources supported by an appropriate sensor capability and infrastructure.

“The South African coastline covers a distance of approximately 3 900km. The maritime domain is crucial to the South African economy with more than 90% of its trade dependent on security of the seas. Securing the RSA sea trade routes, territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are vital to the nation and the State.

“Maritime threats such as seaborne crime and piracy, terrorism, illegal fishing, smuggling of contraband and uncontrolled migration via the sea are ever present.”

“South Africa,” according to the document “will be required to maintain a credible defence capability and adopt a posture demonstrating resilience  irrespective of the nature of potential conflict” with effective border safeguarding operations number one on a list of six priorities.

The others are execution of international obligations; co-operation with the SA Police Service to effect law and order; support to other government departments; humanitarian and disaster relief operations; and contributing to national cyber resilience.