Analysis: Unsettling the status quo
By Helmoed-Römer Heitman
The South African 2012 defence review assesses strategic trends and emerging challenges and reviews the government's practical experience of employing its military in regional peace-support missions and other operations far beyond what had been envisaged in the previous defence review 1998.
While the previous review was budget-centred and focused on transforming the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in line with political changes, the new defence review starts with an assessment of what the government expects from the SANDF. These expectations range from deterrence, defence and protecting vital interests to promoting peace and security in the region and supporting the developmental agenda. These goals are then evaluated against the strategic environment to arrive at a basic defence concept, which is then developed into an employment concept and an outline force design.
As a result of this more practical approach, the new review involves several departures from the status quo.
Firstly, the review accepts South Africa's extended participation in multiple regional security missions as a reality, where the previous review largely side-stepped the issue, with the result that the SANDF has been under-strength and ill-equipped for the missions it has had to perform. The review is also open about South Africa needing to protect vital interests outside its territory.
Additionally the new defence review rejects the structures foisted onto the SANDF by management consultants in the late 1990s. As a result, the army will reinstate corps directors and branch specialists and its units will be grouped in brigades and divisions.249 of 973 words
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