What is SA's military role in Africa?

Comment on this story


Copy of ca p15 SANDF Training DONE

Reuters

File photo: SA National Defence Force members participate in a training exercise.

It is past time for South Africa to decide on its role in Africa; it is also well past time to accept that we are currently overreaching ourselves, and that this will damage the Defence Force. Regardless of what our long-term aim may turn out to be, we need to now focus on what is critical to us.

The Army has two battalions committed to long-term peace support operations in Africa and there is ominous talk of a third. It is also expected to maintain a contingency force to respond to sudden crises, and to patrol our land border of 4 862km, some of it running through very rough terrain.

At the maximum safe rotation rate of 1 in 4 for foreign deployments (to allow proper individual and unit training and family lives for the soldiers), and assuming battalions permanently assigned to border sectors, that requires an Army of about 16 infantry battalions depending on how the border patrol system is designed.

Add at least two battalions as follow-on forces for a crisis intervention, and we need 18 regular Army infantry battalions, not counting the paratroops who are supposed to be the immediate crisis response force.

But the Army only has 13 battalions (not counting the paratroops) and not all of those soldiers are deployable.

We also lack air-transportable armoured cars to provide some punch to deal with the ever better armed “technicals” used by most irregular forces. And we do not have the airlift to reinforce or extract our troops should a sudden escalation occur, or the tanker aircraft to make a quick air strike by our Gripen fighter jets possible – remember Bangui?.

All of these shortcomings – and quite a few others – can be addressed with a defence budget hovering around 2 percent of GDP, with the bulk of the money spent in South Africa on salaries and local products. But while that means a 2 percent budget is a practical target, it will take time to address those shortfalls. For now, there is a clear need to refocus our efforts.

The collapse of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the threatening civil war in South Sudan present a very real and urgent security challenge to the DRC and thus to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa.

We have invested much political capital in the DRC and not a little in South Sudan, and we have spent some lives in efforts to stabilise the east of the DRC and also in the CAR.

Can we really afford to sit by and let the CAR settle into failed state status or watch South Sudan disintegrate? Consider the security impact on the Equateur province of the DRC.

There are already reports from Uganda of guerrillas of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) moving and being supplied through Equateur, and of fighters from Libya and from the Somali al-Shabaab jihadist group joining the ADF.

If that continues, Uganda will step up its covert operations in the northeast of the DRC, and that will undo much of the little that has been achieved in the Great Lakes region since 2001.

That is not something South Africa should sit back and contemplate with equanimity: The DRC is important to SADC and to South Africa, both as a market and as a source of natural resources and energy (Grand Inga).

That does not necessarily mean we should deploy troops to join the AU force Misca in the CAR. Misca is a reinforced version of the central African regional force Fomac, which in March simply stepped aside and let our small contingent take the punch of the Seleka attack without even bothering to alert our troops.

Nor would I be keen to trust the AU, given its failure to respond in Mali and the way it rolled over before Seleka like a puppy in March, instead of kicking them back out. After all, then CAR president Francois Bozize had more or less met the terms of the ceasefire that the AU negotiated; it was Seleka that simply broke it from March 12 onwards.

Nor does this necessarily mean deploying South African forces into South Sudan to stand between the warring factions, and probably being attacked and vilified by both.

But perhaps we should think very seriously about deploying a joint task force to the DRC’s Equateur province to at least reduce the flow of bandits, smugglers, guerrillas, terrorists and their supplies into and through the DRC.

That would require at least a battalion group with air support – helicopters, surveillance aircraft or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones), light transports – and probably elements of the Navy’s small craft unit for river patrols. That might make a major difference to the future of the DRC and of SADC.

Where would we find those troops, given that the Army is already over-stretched?

The only answer to that in the short/medium-term would be to withdraw from the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Unamid.

Not that the efforts to try and bring peace and stability to the people of Darfur are not worthwhile; they most definitely are. But the stability of the DRC is vastly more important to South Africa and to SADC.

Withdrawing from Darfur and expanding the use of reservists for border patrol work would free the troops required for at least a basic stabilisation/border security operation in Equateur, although we would have to deploy helicopters and light aircraft for it to have any chance of success.

Whether we did this as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, Monusco, is not a thought that fills me with enthusiasm, or in terms of a bilateral agreement, is something to consider.

But stabilising the north of the DRC before it unravels and becomes like the east of the DRC, is imperative. Prevention is better than cure, and even containing and limiting the problem will be better than waiting for things to slide out of control. -The Argus

Helmoed Römer Heitman is an independent defence analyst and is the South African correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly and several other periodicals.


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     


Newspaper Subscriptions
chicky582
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 30.
View Profile
Stella143
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
DaffodilTulip
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
CC82
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Ja9
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 26 and 36.
View Profile
Kosmos075
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Athena
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
lookingsexy200
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
OneWay
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 47.
View Profile
SkyLark67
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
KarooBoereMeisie
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
Bella_11
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
kristella
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
Graciousheart
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
xine_414
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Natz79
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Comet43
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 54.
View Profile
LuckyCharm_440
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
spangled_sparrow
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Stiletto1
I'm a 53 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 57.
View Profile
Sosialemeis2
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 46.
View Profile
AmaJ
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 50.
View Profile
Poppielap007
I'm a 23 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 29.
View Profile
MrsLAG
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 40.
View Profile
stofvoetjie
I'm a 18 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 25.
View Profile
ContagiousLaughter
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 44.
View Profile
girlnextdoor2014
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 53.
View Profile
Lulu_101
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 45.
View Profile
Boulderhopper
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
This_is_m3
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 50.
View Profile
Pretty_Nerd
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 37.
View Profile
KiTella
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 42.
View Profile
Lvit2C
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 39.
View Profile
Bubblegumskunk
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 43.
View Profile
Gem24
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
Lemoenbloeisel
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
PhoenixLin
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
pesin15
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
00butterflygirl00
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
AM1234
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 46.
View Profile
SATYNTJIE
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
_Alwayssmiling
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 41.
View Profile
mystiqueZN
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 45.
View Profile
Dreamer1987
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
ioio
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
bluemon
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Gypsey4Life
I'm a 51 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
Tamtam31
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
brokenheart2_cnb
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
kim2702
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
Smarag
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 30.
View Profile
Kwarenina
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
lenQ313
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 28.
View Profile
Sparkie92
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 29.
View Profile
AngelBabe1
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 39.
View Profile
itu22
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 37.
View Profile
LOVINGLIFE417
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 43 and 50.
View Profile
Viv42
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 55.
View Profile
Isolabelle
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
FancyFace32
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 58.
View Profile
veldmuis007
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Charms1203
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Sugababe
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
love_passionately
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Diena_van_die_Eike
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 49 and 62.
View Profile
KissFromARose
I'm a 58 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 64.
View Profile
profile01
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 47.
View Profile
Wonderer_0202
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
voelkos
I'm a 54 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 56.
View Profile
noirsette
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
blom788
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
HoopvolleToekoms
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 39.
View Profile
Liefterdiefter
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
JustLooking69
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Chanex
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 26.
View Profile
Elyn1980
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 42.
View Profile
Ldp123
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 58.
View Profile
blondgirl
I'm a 57 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
lovely00
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 67.
View Profile
thrillsandfrills
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 41 and 45.
View Profile
iamclassy
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
Belind4_M
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 19 and 30.
View Profile
Believer001
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
Lady66
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 55.
View Profile
butterflykisses14
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 31 and 51.
View Profile
Mianli
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
AMy_303
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
DelightfullyTipsy
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 38.
View Profile
SKY248
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 52.
View Profile
AGX
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 44.
View Profile
supe24
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 65.
View Profile
Juliet8
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
Gem31
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
MustLoveDogz
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 43.
View Profile
dreamsoftly
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 58.
View Profile
HottFoxx
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Grace62
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 42.
View Profile
Pete_1
I'm a 70 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
Stream_Net
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 33.
View Profile
MAX_33
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 53.
View Profile
ch_nb
I'm a 28 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
Geard1977
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 27 and 38.
View Profile
WagOngeduldig
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Breukes
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 26 and 35.
View Profile
Liefasb
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Soulsearcher72
I'm a 42 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
LoveFriendFirst123
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 72.
View Profile
Kenfisha123
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
GenuineJ
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 64.
View Profile
deeptime
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile
Jurgy62
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 55.
View Profile
Eugene053
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
annns
I'm a 51 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 56.
View Profile
LEO1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 40.
View Profile
Rich_H
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 48.
View Profile
Virion
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 33.
View Profile
WieEnWaar
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
oth1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
MysticKitesurfer
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 27 and 36.
View Profile
Summerstorm_007
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile
IceDad66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Gster1
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
Yinyani
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
sailor_X897
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 60.
View Profile
B_B_B
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
big_guy_soft_heart
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
Marley77
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
srchinluv
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 46 and 65.
View Profile
honeybush_ht
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
MOOLMAN
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 62.
View Profile
drurie
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 60 and 66.
View Profile
TheRisingSun
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
oldschool_romantic
I'm a 26 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 19 and 31.
View Profile
DoctorSpin
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Ben_57
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 55.
View Profile
Glorious_Quest
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 45.
View Profile
TheRealPeterPan
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Rumrun
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
Double_N
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 50.
View Profile
peyton515
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 46.
View Profile
Rick1508
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 49.
View Profile
WanderingShadow
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
LiveLifeAlways
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 41.
View Profile
earthwormjim1968
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 48.
View Profile
Romanticseb
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 57.
View Profile
cloudhopper
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Holomig
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
TheDuke_99
I'm a 36 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
arew
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 55.
View Profile
rio77
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
skyandsand
I'm a 31 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Deipnosophist
I'm a 40 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Venator
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 48.
View Profile
Rebelinbluejeans
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 62.
View Profile
Stressfree
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
tigercat
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 22 and 54.
View Profile
umustbsomewhere
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Bushbaby210
I'm a 27 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 21 and 35.
View Profile
Fairtalk101
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
gentlebutcrazy
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
QuietDreamer
I'm a 34 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Boereman
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
maybe_111
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 23 and 39.
View Profile
50pluslooking
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
bellagio
I'm a 69 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
JustJve99
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 45.
View Profile
koolstoof55
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
longingforu
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 38.
View Profile
Carden
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 30.
View Profile
MF__802
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
waitingforgodot
I'm a 68 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
saks001
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 59.
View Profile
philip_unplugged514
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 65.
View Profile
niemandsland
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 45.
View Profile
BobTheExtremeBuilder
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 47.
View Profile
Woody777
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
AJK1110
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
rossi46
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
Espavo
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 48.
View Profile
happymaker66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Determined_69
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 47.
View Profile
CapeLover
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 41 and 50.
View Profile
virgo5
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
OldGoat4400
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 48.
View Profile
Btt76
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
JONGKEREL
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 49 and 55.
View Profile
Kent123
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
matiekat
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
cornrlius205
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 50.
View Profile
boersoekvrou14
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
Apalis23
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 39 and 48.
View Profile
letslook
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Free_Spirited
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
Kawa1000
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Lifechanger_7
I'm a 25 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 30.
View Profile

Business Directory