South African National Defence Force

South African National Defence Force
South African National Defence Force
SANDF emblem.jpg
Current form 1994
Service branches South African Army
South African Navy
South African Air Force
South African Military Health Service
Headquarters Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Commander-in-Chief Jacob Zuma
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu
Chief of the South African National Defence Force Godfrey Ngwenya
Military age 18-49
Available for
military service
10,354,769 males, age 18-49 (2005),
10,626,550 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Fit for
military service
4,927,757 males, age 18-49 (2005),
4,609,071 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Reaching military
age annually
512,407 males (2005),
506,078 females (2005)
Active personnel 74,000
Budget $US 3.16 billion
Percent of GDP 1.1% (2010-2011)
Domestic suppliers Denel, Reutech Radar Systems, Thales, Paramount Group
Foreign suppliers BAe, Saab, ThyssenKrupp, AgustaWestland
Related articles
History Military history of South Africa

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is the armed forces of South Africa. The military as it exists today was created in 1994,[1][2] following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force (SADF), and included personnel and equipment from the SADF and the former homelands forces, as well as personnel from the former guerrilla forces of some of the political parties involved in South Africa, such as the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Pan Africanist Congress's APLA and the Self-Protection Units of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).[1] The SANDF is subdivided into four branches, the South African Army, the South African Air Force, the South African Navy, and the South African Military Health Service.[3] The South African Special Forces Brigade is a separate special forces unit under the direct command of the Joint Operations division of the SANDF.

As of 2004, the integration process was considered complete, with the integrated personnel having been incorporated into a slightly modified structure very similar to that of the SADF, with the latter's structure and equipment for the most part being retained.

Due to integration problems, financial constraints, and other issues, the U.S. government is not alone when its diplomats considered in 2005 that the South African military was 'rapidly crumbling.'[4]


Four armed services

Four armed services make up the forces of the SANDF:[3]

The South African Commando System was a territorial militia active until 2008, based upon local units from the size of company to battalion. In its final years its role was to support the South African Police in internal security, During such deployments the units came under Police control.

The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President from one of the armed services. The current commander is General Godfrey Ngwenya. He in turn is accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

Recent peacekeeping actions by the South African military include an invasion of Lesotho in order to restore the democratically-elected government after a coup, as well as extensive contributions to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. An operation to Sudan has just recently[when?] been started and is scheduled to be increased to Brigade strength in the next few months.

The SANDF commander consults with members of several councils and committees and chairs the Defence Command Council (DCC), which oversees the defence budget. On the DCC are the four service chiefs, the chief of the National Defence Force staff, the military inspector general, the chiefs of defence headquarters staff divisions, and other key defence officials. Headquarters responsibilities are allocated among six staff divisions—the Finance Division, the Intelligence Division, the Logistics Division, the Joint Operations Division, the Personnel Division, and the Planning Division.

Recently a large-scale programme was launched to re-equip the SANDF with warships and submarines being purchased in Germany and fighter jets being purchased in Sweden and the United Kingdom. This has been controversial due to the great cost and reports of corruption in the awarding of contracts.

Issues that face the SANDF include a severe shortage of pilots and naval combat officers, due to the replacement of white officers from the former SADF with appointments from the old liberation forces, none of which ever had any aviation or maritime components. The loss of trained personnel and the decommissioning of much needed equipment due to funding issues, high HIV-rates amongst personnel and the fact that SANDF infantry soldiers are some of the oldest in the world, all raise questions regarding the current fighting efficiency of the SANDF. Some of these issues are being addressed with the introduction of the Military Skills Development (MSD) programme, as well as aggressive recruitment and training by the Reserve Force Regiments. Funding shortages also cause problems.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993 (Section 224)". South African Government. 1993. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ Col L B van Stade, Senior Staff Officer Rationalisation, SANDF (1997). "Rationalisation in the SANDF: The Next Challenge". Institute for Security Studies. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  3. ^ a b "Defence Act 42 of 2002". South African Government. 2003-02-12. p. 18. Archived from the original on 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  4. ^ U.S. Embassy The Hague, 05THEHAGUE2973 Netherlands/Africa: DASD Whelan's visit to The Hague, 1 November 2005, via Wikileaks United States diplomatic cables leak
  5. ^ "Lack of funds harming South African Army". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 

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