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Reserves to be “classified” for better utilisation

Date: 1 November 2018

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The revamp of the Reserve Force service system will see changes for South Africa’s part-time soldiers with among others, a classification system creating different levels of soldier.

The days of call-ups being in the hands of a single person are numbered with call-ups and duty periods now the work of a committee, minimising opportunities for wrongdoing and corruption.

Also on the cards in the updated Reserve Force service system is, for want of a better description, “grading” of soldiers. On the cards are four “classes” of reserves which will allow for better utilisation of the Reserve Force and reinforce the one force concept which envisages the regular and part-time components of South Africa’s military machines working together competently at operational and other levels.

At number one on the proposed list of “classes” is the conventional reserve function, also referred to as the “surge capability” and needed to enhance the capacity of the Reserves to reinforce, strengthen and to ensure operations to counter a threat can be sustained.

The second is the “immediate deployable capability” and is seen as supplementing the regular or fulltime force. This requirement envisages a part-time force, utilised on a “semi- regular force” basis to support when and where needed.

Number three is termed the “home guard” function and is broadly defined as a militia-type system linked with and structured to support government’s developmental agenda. This includes nation building, poverty alleviation, skills developments as well as leadership and training.

The final class is labelled the “specialist capability”. The intention is to create and administer a database and service system to allow utilisation of a pool of readily accessible Reserve Force specialists in what is termed “a diverse range of disciplines”. These range from financial planning and management through to project management in specific engineering skills such as water and electricity and others.

The four envisaged “classes” or levels of Reserve apply to the landward force only with different functionalities set for the airborne, maritime and medical service.

A new structure is proposed for SA Air Force (SAAF) Reserves to maintain “critically needed musterings” in the air force and provide a feeder and training system. Also in the future of air force Reserves is re-activation of the Air Reserve squadrons and activation of tactical airfield units. Provision is also made for specialist capabilities in the airborne service of aircrew (other than that of Reserve squadrons), aeronautical technicians and civilian aviation experts.

The SA Navy will not, for the medium term expenditure framework period, re-activate Reserve sub-units but will remain the main provider of manpower for marine border patrol, harbour protection and what is termed “the wider concept of homeland defence”.

SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) Reserve Force entities coupled to area military health units, military hospitals and specialist institutes will augment Regular Force medics as and where needed.

Indications are a start will be made in implementing changes to the Reserve Force service system in all services and divisions before year-end.

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