South African National Defence Force (SANDF) recruits reporting for the start of their military service this week will shortly start six months of basic military training (BMT).
A SANDF spokesman says all Services have been instructed to extend BMT to a uniform 26 weeks.
The SA Army last year announced that it was extending its BMT to 22 weeks, although a spokesman in December said it was actually 20 weeks.
Chief of Army Force Preparation Major General Vuzi Masondo in November said this would allow more time to be spent mastering drills and skills.
“What is now a week will become two or three weeks,” he says. “It is important that our troops master their skills now that we deploy much more on the continent.”
A written answer to a Parliamentary question in August 2007 showed that BMT at the time was 14 weeks for the SA Army and SA Air Force, 23 weeks for the SA Navy and 12 weeks for the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).
SANDF spokesman Colonel Petrus Motlhabane says it is “common practice that all curricula are updated on a two-yearly basis”.
He adds that after “a thorough assessment of BMT it became clear that more time should be allocated to practical skills development.
“The purpose of the BMT is to lay the foundation for subsequent military training, and therefore forms an important building block in the training of a soldier”.
During BMT, the primary training methodology is practical demonstrations and lessons, with time for practical skills application.
“The first week of BMT is used as an induction period during which recruits are introduced to the military environment. Subjects such as personnel matters, disciplinary procedures, equipment awareness, basic mess etiquette, personal hygiene and safety are presented,” Motlhabane adds.
In addition to a focus on drill, musketry, field craft and physical fitness, BMT also includes “modules on the Law of Armed Conflict, occupational health and safety, life skills, equal opportunities, labour relations, map reading and combat water safety.
After generic BMT the recruits will undergo further specific military training to qualify them in their musterings.
The SANDF says Air Force recruits are from today to Saturday reporting at the SAAF Gymnasium, now located in Hoedspruit. Defence minister Charles Nqakula will address about 300 of these recruits on Thursday morning at the Gymnasium`s facility in Valhalla, Pretoria.
Naval recruits will report to the Navy Gymnasium at Saldanha, north of Cape Town, on Friday and Saturday, while SAMHS recruits will report to that Service`s Training Formation at Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria, from next Monday to Friday.
SA Army recruits, due to their numbers, will during that same period report for BMT at a number of schools and operational units, including the School of Engineers (Kroonstad), the Infantry School (Oudtshoorn, Western Cape), the Tactical Intelligence School (Potchefstroom), 4 Artillery Regiment (Potchefstroom), 10 Air Defence Artillery Regiment (Kimberley), 1 Special Service Battalion (Bloemfontein), 1 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion (Bloemfontein), 3 SAI Battalion (Kimberley), 9 SAI Battalion (Cape Town) and 14 SAI Battalion (Umtata).