National Security Strategy cometh

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Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele says his ministry and department has made significant progress in finalising a National Security Strategy (NSS) as well as a “National Interest Doctrine”.

“Consultations with critical role players in and outside the security structures have been initiated to enrich the concepts. The State Security Agency has conducted research to address long term challenges in the food, water and energy security sectors,” Cwele said in his annual budget address on Thursday without elaborating further. He has previously said the strategy would be finalised by the end of the term of the present government, which means by 2014.

In his budget vote last year May Cwele said the “main purpose of the strategy was to build an understanding and national consciousness around the security challenges we face as a nation. Furthermore, the strategy will provide a long-term framework for managing the security threats facing our country.
“To realise this important objective, we must, as a nation, develop a common understanding on what constitutes national security, as well as the foundation upon which it will be based. I would like to emphasise that the strategy requires that we take collective ownership. It will therefore be essential to engage with members of the public on this matter,” he said at the time.

Former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota in his defence budget vote in May 2008 defined national security as “an all encompassing condition, which includes the safeguarding of South Africa and its people against a wide range of threats, many of which are non-military in nature. Since many of these sources of insecurity transcend state borders, collective action must be undertaken within multilateral organisations to provide adequate responses and lasting solutions.”

A 2010 draft of the highly controversial Protection of Information Bill defined ‘‘national security” as “the resolve of South Africans as individuals and as a nation, to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life, and includes protection of the people and occupants of the Republic from hostile acts of foreign intervention, terrorist and related activities, espionage and violence, whether directed from or committed within the Republic or not, and includes the carrying out of the Republic’s responsibilities to any foreign country in relation to any of the matters referred to in this definition.”

But analysts say this is too broad for the purposes of national security and defence professionals. defenceWeb consultant and retired Army colonel David Peddle said a NSS is important. “Yes, we must have a NSS. Every reasonable country has one, after defining what their vital interests (VI) and national interests (NI) are. He suggests the first may trigger war if threatened – for example a threat to the Gauteng water supply – while the other “defines foreign policy actions and/or activities.” Peddle suggests a NSS “must incorporate every government department’s contribution towards ensuring that the nation has a defined threat profile against which all possible and manner of threats are viewed and measured.” The state’s response must be measured against the NSS “and what constitutes a threat to our VI as opposed to NI. This strategy will then allow for a calculated and proportional response to any real or perceived threat to the state.”

Rear Admiral Rolf Hauter (retired), a strategist, adds a NSS has been the most crucial element missing in South Africa’s overall policy framework. “This largely explains why most security related policies and strategies have largely been based on the perceptions of the policy writers or strategists of what national security entails.” He adds “a NSS must be holistic in nature, it must include every recognised aspect of security. I have always been a firm believer in simplicity when it comes to strategy. The most simplistic way of looking at a strategy is that it it must include the three most basic elements i.e. the ENDS that must be achieved, the WAYS of achieving the ends and then the MEANS with which to achieve them. The ultimate test will be whether the three elements are in balance with one another. Simply speaking don’t end up with an unaffordable strategy. Last but not least it must be remembered that a poor strategy well implemented is always better than a brilliant strategy poorly implemented, Hauter says.



Defence thinker Helmoed-Römer Heitman says foreign policy and long-term economic policy must provide the basis for a NSS; “then we can develop a security policy, which includes defence and internal security; and finally an intelligence policy to support them. And to close the loop, our foreign policy and economic policy must be based on good intelligence and a proper awareness of what the security forces and particularly the defence force can do. In parallel, defence and national industrial policy also need to be aligned.
“The fundamental considerations underlying national security policy should originate from the cabinet on the basis of intelligence and our desired foreign policy outcomes. The national security policy must be based on a proper long-term threat and risk analysis and assessment, with the risk assessment taking into account not only likelihood and level of danger, but also how long it would take to develop the capability to deter, discourage or head off a given potential or possible threat. Against that background the policy must address:
1. Intelligence: “What we expect of our intelligence services and what sort of services we require.”
2. Defence: “What we want the armed forces to be able to do, the strategy to achieve that, and what sort of armed forces we need to implement that strategy.”
3. Internal Security (including border security and key point protection): “What level of security is required (and what escalation may be required), and which service(s) should perform which function and, in broad terms, how (ie strategy).”
4. Industrial: “How to optimally bring industry into providing the equipment and support that the various services require.”
5. Foreign: “closing the loop here, a careful assessment of the above four sub-policies in the course of their development will suggest adaptation to our foreign policy – who we want to or need to be on good terms with, and how that will impact on our relations with others.”