The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - The SA National Defence Force simulated over 150 invasion scenarios parallel to the 1997 Defence Review consultation process, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.
SA Navy Rear Admiral Robert Higgs, the commission's second witness, said the war simulations as part of Project Optimum were intense exercises.
“The wargames and the associated costing made it clear that the optimum maritime defence value to defend and protect South Africa would be achieved by a modest number of surface combatants and submarines,” said Higgs.
“Many of these wargames and the cost and success of each strategy was measured against others. There were over 150 different contingencies.”
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 arms deal.
Higgs applauded the 1996 and 1997 defence review processes as “most consultative”. Higgs took part in the review process as a newly promoted Captain.
“The process of formulating the defence review was a most consultative, inclusive and transparent process where many issues including the guns versus butter issues were thoroughly discussed,” he said.
“This was, in summary, the conflicting pressures on the national budget versus the level of national defence preparedness.”
He said some of the outspoken critics of the strategic defence procurement package (SDDP), commonly referred to as the arms deal, had taken part in the participatory processes.
Earlier, Higgs said prioritising the purchase and maintenance of military equipment was a national imperative. He said South Africa's investment in maritime equipment had been exceedingly modest.
“People know very well about nations moving across the sea and imposing their will on other nations in an unfriendly manner. Often, South Africans need to be reminded of the Anglo-Boer war,” he said.
“The British brought almost half a million soldiers to kill the Boers Those troops came by sea because Britain controlled the seas.”
The navy, partnering with other divisions, such as the air force, was well-positioned to fend off an invasion.
“The reality is, our navy is there to make sure that if the British are here, it is because we want them to be here. Not because they will enforce their will on us,” Higgs said.
“The ability to protect South Africa against any would-be aggressor is the fact of our maritime trade. It is so fundamental to the butter side of the guns and butter debate.”
Through the SDPP, the SA Navy had acquired four frigates and three submarines.
The public hearings continue.