Op Corona deployment numbers set to stay at 15 companies


The border protection tasking in the hands of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will remain at the level of 15 companies deployed at any one time at least until the 2020/21 financial year.

It was originally projected to rise to the 20 company mark but, as with other SANDF services and divisions, zero increase in budget means Operation Corona will remain static for the current and next two financial cycles.

The report has it that a company, or sub-unit, typically consists of 170 members. This means there are currently 2 550 soldiers doing border duty. They are mainly infantry, both full-time and Reserve Force, supported by elements from the SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).

The force employment programme of the SANDF is the responsibility of Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo and he, like his counterparts at the air force, army, military health service and navy, also has to face the reality of a shrinking military budget.

According to the Department of Defence (D0D) 2018 performance plan, the force employment programme has four outputs.

These are providing and employing a special operations capability in accordance with national requirements; ensuring full participation in peace missions as instructed by the President; conducting eight joint, inter-departmental, inter-agency and multinational military force preparation exercises, excluding Special Forces exercises; and conducting operations protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of South Africa as well as supporting other government departments and complying with international obligations.

This has to be accomplished on a budget of just over R3.3 billion – a shortfall of more than R1.1 billion. Again, in common with other SANDF services, the performance plan notes the shortfall will impact on the ability of the Joint Operations Division to meet government requirements and obligations externally and internally as well as participation in multinational exercises. No details are given of the exercises planned for the current financial cycle.