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Army Order of Battle

  SA Army Air Defence Artillery Formation 43 SA Brigade
  SA Armour Formation46 SA Brigade
  SA Army Artillery Formation
  SA Army Engineer Formation
  SA Army Infantry Formation
  SA Army Intelligence Formation
  SA Army Signal Formation
  SA Army Support Formation
  SA Army Training Formation

The Army has two brigade headquarters, to which it assigns units as required for a particular operation. Its units otherwise fall under so-called “type formations”, which are essentially what most other armies call branches or corps, and of which there are nine: Infantry, Artillery, Air Defence Artillery, Armour, Engineer, Intelligence, Training and Support.

The army is organized into territorial forces and conventional forces, both commanded by the chief of the army through different command structures. This division reflects the army's dual mission -- to ensure internal security and to defend the country against external threats. The territorial forces are organized by region and are primarily responsible for internal security tasks, such as helping the police ensure law and order, combating terrorism, patrolling national borders, protecting strategic sites, providing emergency and disaster relief, and administering military reserve forces within their region. In 1996 most members of the former homeland military forces were being incorporated into the territorial forces.

The ten regional military commands were headquartered at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Durban, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Potchefstroom, Nelspruit, and Pietersburg. In 1996 the boundaries of the military regions were being changed to conform more closely to the country's new administrative regions. After the 1998 Defense Review, it was announced that the Army's nine provincial commands were to go, along with that of the other Arms of Service (AoS). In their place were five regional task forces: headquartered in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Pietersburg, respectively. These will be controlled by the SANDF-level Chief of Joint Operations (C JOps), not the AoS chiefs.

Like the territorial forces, the army's conventional forces are stationed throughout the country, but their training and organization are separate from the territorial forces. The conventional forces fall under the operational control of the army headquarters in Pretoria, not under the regional commanders. The conventional forces are trained to confront traditional security threats, such as a foreign enemy.

The conventional forces are organized into contingency forces and a mobilization force. As of the early 1990s, the contingency forces consisted of one mechanized/motorized brigade -- 43 SA Brigade -- and two parachute brigades -- the Forty-fourth Parachute Brigade and the Forty-fifth Parachute Brigade. The mobilization force was organized into three mechanized divisions--the Seventh Division, the Eighth Division, and the Ninth Division.

The 1998 Defence Review Option 1 laid out a the basis for conventional defence as the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). This comprises of a mechanised infantry brigade, a parachute brigade and a special forces brigade, which maintain immediate readiness for all shorter term contingencies. Potential for expansion is provided by the Part-Time Component mobile division, consisting of three balanced brigades at various levels of preparedness. Two Brigade headquarters, that can be used as Task Force headquarters (one Reserve - 46 Bde and one Active - 43 Bde ) deploy under C JOps control, as required. As of 1998 43 Brigade HQ was controlling South African forces operating in Lesotho. Neither Brigade is assigned any permanent units. The Olifant Mk1A/B is South Africa's main battle tank and is the main component of the conventional land battle.

These conventional, mobile forces are supplemented by border and area protection forces. Their main purpose is the protection of landward borders and interior assets against enemy mobile, airborne and special forces. During peace-time they form the backbone of SANDF participation in border protection and maintenance of law and order tasks. These forces consist principally of 14 light infantry battalions, 12 territorial infantry battalions and 183 area protection units. Command and Control is currently effected through 27 Group Headquarters within nine Command Areas of responsibility throughout South Africa. The full-time force of the Army currently comprises

  • 1 Tank regiment (Olifant Mk 1A)
  • 1 Armoured car regiment (Rooikat)
  • 1 Mechanised infantry battalion group (Ratel, Rooikat, G5)
  • 1 Mechanised infantry battalion (Ratel)
  • 1 Parachute battalion
  • 3 Motorised infantry battalions (Buffel and Casspir APCs)
  • 9 Light infantry battalions (Mamba APCs, Samil 20 trucks)
  • 1 Specialist infantry battalion (motorcycles, mounted infantry, dog handlers, trackers)
  • 1 Anti-aircraft regiment (twin 35 mm)
  • 1 Intelligence regiment
  • 7 Engineer regiments of various types.
  • 1 Construction regiment
  • 2 Field workshops
  • 1 Artillery regiment (G6, G5 and Bateleur)
  • 2 Maintenance units (logistic support/transport)

An infantry battalion is generally some 700 strong, an artillery battalion usually has three batteries of six to eight weapons each, a tank squadron has around 14 main battle tanks, and an anti-tank missile troop should have four vehicles with missile launchers.

The internal stability force is commanded through one regional headquarters (Soutpansberg Military Area in the Northern Province and 19 Group Headquarters, which draw on a mix of full-time infantry battalions and reserve rear area security units (commandos) for troops.

The Army's reserve force is virtually defunct, not having received new recruits in useful numbers for several years. Under the 1996 White Paper on Defence and the 1998 Defence Review, the SANDF's reserves are meant to provide the bulk of its manpower in case of war or national calamity. But it has been so underfunded in recent years that by 2002 many battalions that should be able to field several hundred troops can barely manage a few dozen. The 52 battalions and 183 commando units that make up the bulk of the reserves need R264m a year to function properly, but the 2002 allocation was R6.6m.

Functionally, the army also distinguishes between combat corps and support service corps. The combat corps include infantry, artillery, antiaircraft, and armored corps. The infantry is the largest of the combat corps and has both mechanized and airborne units. The artillery corps uses indirect fire guns, howitzers, field guns, and multiple rocket launchers, generally coordinating operations with the antiaircraft corps to protect ground forces. The armored corps relies largely on tanks with 105-millimeter guns and on a variety of other armored vehicles.

The support service corps include engineers, signals specialists, and others trained in ordnance, technical services, intelligence, personnel, and finance, as well as musicians, caterers, and the military police. Service units maintain, repair, and recondition all equipment, except communications equipment. The military police serve as the army's internal police force and control traffic to and from operational areas.

The Commandos are formally under the authority of the regional commands of the army but are organized and deployed in a tradition similar to that of the National Guard in the United States. Originally volunteers trained for quick-response to local emergencies, they were used to quell unrest during the apartheid era; in the 1990s, Commando units are assigned to guard important installations, such as industrial plants, oil refineries, communication centers, and transportation facilities.

Commandos generally serve a total of 1,000 active-duty days over a ten- or twelve-year period. In emergencies, the period of active duty is increased in increments of fifty days. Urban Commando units are generally organized into a single urban battalion. Rural Commando units are sometimes organized into a regional battalion.

The current military police in the SANDF trace their origins to 30 December 1938, when South Africa established the South African Corps of Military Police (SACMP), or Suid-Afrikaanse Militere Polisie Korps, as a unit of the Permanent Force of the South African army, part of what was then called the South African Defence Force. This proclamation went into effect on 1 November 1938 and is the official birthday of the SACMP. The SACMP remained an integral part of the South African army, providing military police support during domestic operations and war for more than 60 years.

In 1994, the SACMP underwent its largest transformation with the election of the African National Congress as the majority government in the new South Africa. Reflecting the diversity of the people and their culture, a number of armed forces of the apartheid era South Africa were integrated into the new SANDF, replacing the South African Defence Force, on 27 April 1994. These armed forces were the so-called statutory forces-the South African Defence Force, the Transkei Defence Force, the Ciskei Defence Force, the Bophutatswana Defence Force, and the Venda Defence Force - and the three nonstatutory forces, which were armed wings of previously outlawed political parties. These were Umkhonto we Sizwe of the African National Congress, the Azanian People's Liberation Army of the Pan-African Congress, and the KwaZulu Self-Protection Force of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

With integration into the SANDF, military police of these forces were also integrated into the SACMP. The corps of military police did not change its name, but the diversity of the corps reflected the new beginning of South Africa.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2012 19:12:52 ZULU