SA military in dire straits - review

2014-03-26 05:30
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Cape Town - South Africa's cash-strapped armed forces are in a "critical state of decline" that will take at least a decade to fix even with urgent action, according to a military strategy review seen by Reuters.

It said "neglect" of defence capability could impact everything from border security to trade and constrain Pretoria's continental peace-keeping and diplomatic ambitions.

A regular contributor to UN peace missions in Africa, South Africa currently has troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, and its ships and frigates support anti-piracy efforts off Mozambique.

However, the 2014 South African Defence Review, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, says such deployments are under threat.

"Even with an immediate intervention, it could take at least five years to arrest the decline and another five years to develop a limited and sustainable defence capability," the review said.

The long-term strategy document, which was approved this month by cabinet, is the first major assessment of the military capability of Africa's biggest economy since one in 1998.

"The longer the neglect is perpetuated, the greater the effort, time and cost that would be necessary to arrest the decline and restore the minimum capabilities required to safeguard South Africa's borders, protect its maritime trade routes, conduct peace missions and humanitarian interventions," it added.

‘Block obsolescence’

As specific examples, the report cited a lack of proper ammunition, ageing military transport planes and "block obsolescence" of the army's prime mission equipment, such as infantry trucks.

The required ammunition stock for the national reserve is supposed to supply an army mechanised brigade for 90 days in a mixture of high, medium and low intensity operations, but current ammunition levels can "by no means" support this level.

The mainstay of South Africa's military transport aircraft is the ageing Lockheed C-130 Hercules, which first entered service in the US in the 1950s. The country has been shopping around for larger transport aircraft since cancelling a $5.2bn contract to buy eight new Airbus A400M military transport planes in 2009.

"Currently the fleet is unable to meet the lift requirements for supporting the external operations and any surge in this requirement will result in an even greater reliance on contracted airlift services," the review said.

Military analysts say the logistical short-comings were brought into sharp relief during a nine-hour firefight with rebels in the Central African Republic last year in which 13 South African soldiers were killed.

Lack of funding

However, the report also said a lack of funding was preventing modernisation of the 97 000-strong armed forces, including regulars, reserves and civilian staff.

Without more money, the military would be unable to support Pretoria's diplomatic and commercial expansion in Africa, where old colonial powers such as France, and new economic ones such as China, are flexing their muscles, it added.

"There must either be a greater budget allocation or a significantly scaled-down level of ambition and commitment," it said.

As a solution, the review suggested massive investment in heavy-combat capability, to augment peace-keeping in high-risk situations, as well as enhancing missile, air-lift and joint sea lift capabilities.

It did not specify what heavy-combat capability should be, but experts said it could include attack helicopters and tanks.

This could almost double the military budget to R74bn by 2030 from around R40bn in 2013 - equivalent to around 1% of GDP, a ratio well below other developed and developing nations.

Attaining the highest level of military security would mean regular annual funding of R116bn or 3.3% of GDP, the review added.

Under apartheid, South Africa had one of the most feared and well-funded armed forces on the continent, but since the end of the Cold War and white-minority rule in the early 1990s, Pretoria has cut military spending dramatically in favour of health, housing, education and social security.

Read more on:    un  |  sandf  |  south africa  |  security
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
297 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Your ideas may feel like a sea of thoughts swimming around every which way, and now you need to find something to contain them in...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.