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Authored by Professor Deane-Peter Baker. | June 2009
Since emerging from the mire of its apartheid past, South Africa has become a key player in Sub-Saharan Africa. The very significant challenge of creating a truly national military during a period in which South Africa has also wrestled with tough internal socio-economic problems has left the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in a weakened state. Despite this, in recent years the branches of the SANDF, particularly the South African (SA) Army, have made a considerable contribution to efforts to bring peace and stability to the African continent. A critical step in building a capable and confident future SA Army has been the commencement of the Army's Vision 2020 forward planning process. Recent political changes in both the United States and South Africa have opened up a new window of opportunity for developing a productive partnership between the two nations. This monograph outlines ways in which the United States can contribute to the SA Army's Vision 2020 program so as to help optimize South Africa's potential contribution to the emergence of a peaceful and stable Africa.
The primary product of the Vision 2020 program to date is the recently document titled The Future SA Army Strategy, informally referred to as "Strategy 2020." Strategy 2020 outlines two central objectives for the future SA Army:
An ancillary function for the SA Army will be to provide support to the nation's population in response to threats to human security that are beyond the ability of the nation's other security forces to address, and to contribute to socio-economic development in South Africa.
In response to its dual mandate, Strategy 2020 outlines a future SA Army force structure composed of a mechanized division (optimized for conventional warfare, manned primarily by reservists, and kept at a sub-optimum level of readiness); a motorized division (primarily composed of active component infantry brigades and prepared for routine expeditionary deployments on peace and stability missions); and a Special Operations Brigade (designed to undertake quick-reaction and early-entry operations).
While there is much to be lauded in Strategy 2020, the dual-mandate force structure it proposes is problematic for many reasons. The central argument of this monograph is that the proposed force structure will not maximize South Africa's ability to contribute to expeditionary stability and peacekeeping opportunities, nor will it leave South Africa militarily prepared for a significant conventional threat to her sovereignty, territorial integrity, or vital interests. The United States and her North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies should therefore seek opportunities to enable the SA Army to design a force structure agile and flexible enough to meet both conventional threats (to its territorial integrity) and nonconventional threats (to extraterritorial stability).
In addition, South Africa should be encouraged to see the nation's army not simply as a contributor of forces to multinational peace and stability operations, but (given South Africa's relative economic and technological strength) also as a critical enabler of such operations. The SA Army's structure and capabilities should be designed accordingly, with particular attention to its capabilities in logistics; intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR); command and control; and other essential force-support functions.
This monograph also proposes that the SA Army be formally connected, through the supply of trained personnel, to a newly created system of border guard and other specialized South African Police Service units. This mission offers a means by which the SA Army can significantly contribute to the task of addressing one of South Africa's biggest challenges—crime and illegal immigration—without taking the politically unpalatable step of direct involvement in internal security operations.
The means by which the United States can contribute to optimizing the design and development of the future SA Army include:
Recent years have seen a growing determination among African nations to seek "African solutions for African problems." While the economic and other challenges facing most African states mean that the continent will continue to be reliant on outside help for a long time to come, it is desirable to seize every opportunity to enable Africans to find those African solutions. The SA Army has the potential to contribute very significantly to peace and stability operations on the continent. The recommendations outlined in this monograph, if implemented, will greatly enhance that potential. Particularly given Africa's history of exploitation and abuse by Western nations, Africans deserve the opportunity to take responsibility for peace and stability on the continent. From a practical perspective, a capable SA Army, proactively engaged in securing stability in Africa, will help reduce the demands on U.S., NATO, and other outside forces that would otherwise be called upon to respond. Such an outcome is devoutly to be wished by all, and a goal worth investing in.
|Recommendations for Enhancing SA Army Strategy 2020||Possible U.S. Contribution|
|Rethink the "Dual Mandate" Force Structure.||
· Make simulation/wargaming capabilities available to SA Army Vision 2020 planners.
· Develop closer ties between USMC and SANDF.
|Conceptualize and design SA Army as a force enabler for multinational AU and UN operations.||
· Share U.S. Army expertise in working with coalition partners.
· Assist SA Army in developing specialized capabilities such as advanced logistics, ISTAR, military police, civil affairs, psyops, and human terrain system.
|Rethink the role of the reserve component in the SA Army.||· Share U.S. military experience and thinking on the flexible and appropriate use of reserve forces.|
|Increase SA Army's formal contribution to addressing South Africa's internal security challenges (crime and border security).||· Create SA Army links with, and share experience of, U.S. Border Patrol and Nat. Guard, to explore creation of SA Army-enabled Police-"owned" border patrol and specialist police units.|
|Operationalize Reserve Training System and higher- level officer education.||
· Build links with U.S. Army ROTC.
· Expand the scope of ACOTA, IMET or similar programs to enable the funding of scholarships tied to RTS.
· Create RTS-ROTC exchange program.
· Assist SA Army education system in equipping faculty and directing staff and designing curricula.
· Support the creation of a robust distance learning platform for the SA Army.
|Improve the quality of research undertaken in support of Vision 2020 and development of doctrine.||· Contribute to the creation of a dedicated defense research center.|