South African defence policy and capability : the case of the South African National Defence Force

Louw, Gerhard Martin (2013-12)

Thesis (MMil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Armed forces the world over have three primary functions — force development, force deployment and force employment. Defence policy plays a guiding role in all of these, but is especially important in establishing the rationale for the creation of those military capabilities that force development brings about. The end of the Cold War, which coincided with a new political dispensation in South Africa, also gave rise to a new security paradigm: a theory implying both a reduction in the utility of military force, and an adjustment in the use of military forces. This phenomenon changed the context within which states generate modern defence policy, but did not affect the causal relationship between policy publications and the outcomes of a military’s force development activities. Usually, a defence policy presupposes the development of armed forces that are effective and efficient at executing their mandate — a condition that is measurable in terms of the organisation’s levels integration, skill, quality and responsiveness. The thesis uses this concept, both as a point of departure and as a structural organising device, to describe the variance between defence policy and military capabilities. A general analysis of South Africa’s defence policy publications indicates that, indeed, the policymakers had thoroughly considered the armed forces’ effectiveness when they wrote the White Paper (1996) and the Defence Review (1998). By 2006, the South African Army has interpreted national defence policy and formulated a future strategy of its own, very much in alignment with the ‘modern system’ approach of the original policy publications. However, further analysis of the actual capabilities of the South African National Defence Force indicates a major variance between the relevant defence policy publications, the military’s force development outcomes, and the present demands of the South African security environment. There appears to be quite serious deficiencies in the attribute of integration, which arise primarily from political influences; furthermore, the military’s quality is under strain, mainly because of the defence force’s seeming inability to formulate a strategy that is not only acceptable, but also suitable and feasible. While the armed forces appear to be skilful enough to execute their present (peacetime) missions, success in the type of operations that policy demands is unlikely. In summary, the study suggests that the principal reason for the large variance between defence policy, military capabilities, and real operational demands stems from defence’s lack of responsiveness to its resource constraints and operational realities. The thesis therefore concludes that the defence force has been largely unsuccessful in complying with the demands of defence policy, irrespective of the fact that the policy by itself may be obsolete and/or inappropriate for the South African context; furthermore, that military effectiveness in meeting current operational demands is also doubtful. Finally, the defence force’s schizophrenic organisational culture may be the primary cause of it moving ever closer to reneging on its constitutional mandate.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gewapende magte wêreldwyd het drie primêre funksies — magsontwikkeling, magsontplooiing en magsaanwending. Verdedigingsbeleid vervul ‘n rigtinggewende rol in al hierdie funksies, maar is veral belangrik om die skepping van die militêre vermoëns, wat deur magsontwikkelingsaktiwiteite daargestel word, te regverdig. Gevolglik beoog hierdie tesis om die mate van ooreenkoms tussen die voorskrifte van Suid-Afrikaanse verdedigingsbeleid en die werklike militêre vermoëns van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag te beskryf, soos dit ontwikkel het tussen 2000 en 2011. Die einde van die Koue Oorlog (samelopend met die totstandkoming van ‘n nuwe bedeling in Suid-Afrika) het geboorte gegee aan nuwe denke betreffende veiligheid, wat ook ‘n afname in die nuttigheid van militêre mag en ‘n aanpassing in die aanwending van militêre magte tot gevolg gehad het. Hierdie verskynsel het die omgewing waarbinne moderne state verdedigingsbeleid ontwikkel verander, maar nie die kousale verband tussen beleidspublikasies en die uitkomste van ‘n weermag se magsontwikkelingsaktiwiteite aangeraak nie. Gewoonlik veronderstel ‘n verdedigingsbeleid die ontwikkeling van gewapende magte wat doeltreffend en doelmatig is in die uitvoering van hul mandaat — ‘n toestand wat meetbaar is in terme van die organisasie se vlakke van integrasie, vaardigheid, kwaliteit, en hul vermoë om toepaslik op omgewigsinvloede te reageer. Die tesis gebruik hierdie konsep, beide as ‘n vertrekpunt en as ‘n strukturele ordeningsmeganisme, en om die verskille tussen verdedigingsbeleid en militêre vermoëns te beskryf. ‘n Algemene ontleding van Suid-Afrika se verdedigingsbeleidspublikasies toon dat, met die skryf van die Witskrif (1996) en Verdedigingsoorsig (1998), beleidmakers wel deeglike oorweging geskenk het aan die weermag se doeltreffenheid; so ook die Suid-Afrikaanse Leër, wat teen 2006 sy eie toekomsstrategie die lig laat sien het. Desnieteenstaande getuig verdere ontleding van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasional Weermag se werklike vermoëns van diepgaande verskille tussen verbandhoudende beleidspublikasies, die weermag se ontwikkelingsuitkomste, en die huidige eise van die Suid-Afrikaanse veiligheidsomgewing. Dit wil voorkom asof daar ernstige integrasie-leemtes is, komende hoofsaaklik vanuit die politieke omgewing; verder is die gewapende magte se kwaliteit onder druk, hoofsaaklik vanweë die weermag se onvermoë om ‘n strategie te formuleer wat gelyktydig aanvaarbaar, geskik en uitvoerbaar is. Die gewapende magte mag dalk vaardig genoeg wees om hul huidige (vredestydse) take te verrig, maar dit is te betwyfel of hulle suksesvol sal wees in die voer van die tipe operasies soos beleid voorgeskryf. Ter opsomming dui die studie aan dat die groot verskille tussen verdedigingsbeleid, militêre vermoëns en werklike operasionel eise voor die deur van ‘n gebrek aan doelmatige aanpassing by hulpbrontekorte en operasionele werklikhede gelê kan word. Die tesis maak dus die gevolgtrekking dat die weermag grootliks onsuksesvol was om aan die vereistes van verdedigingsbeleid te voldoen, ongeag die feit dat verdedigingsbeleid op sigself verouderderd en/of ontoepaslik binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks mag wees; verder, dat militêre effektiwiteit ter voldoening aan huidige operasionele eise tans ook verdag is. Ten slotte is die weermag se tweeslagtige organisasiekultuur moontlik die belangrikste oorsaak van die neiging na die versaking van verdediging se grondwetlike mandaat.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85766
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