From policy to operational application : The South African Defence Force 1969-1989

Van den Berg, Charnelle (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South African conflicts, if not most conflicts , can be summarised in the phrase by Heinz Guderian; “There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people”. 1 While the years that followed the National Party’s (NP) rule were filled with trials and tribulations, the period of 1948 to 1991 was also marked by innovation and growth in almost all aspects of the country. However, most modern histories of South Africa focus on the recalling of those who suffered under NP rule, understandably so since the country’s history is littered with injustices. But subjective retelling can cause blindness to de velopments that influenced the country and population to evolve the way it did.It is therefore of the utmost importance that the continuation of historical writing be based on unbiased grounds, to take full advantage of the opportunity to examine and learn from all aspects of South Afri can history in order to adapt to an evolving society. The South African Defence Force (SADF) was particularly well-adept in adapting to its environment and adjusting its organizational structures accordingly. The institution, however, did not function on its own, but was influenced by numerous external and internal factors. Most academic and non-academic authors have written about the structure, strategy, experiences and development of the SADF, but some of these writings can be regarded as subjective to the experiences of those authors, or politically orientated or motivated, or predominantly focused on the military aspect of the SADF. This thesis does not aim to contradict those authors, but ra ther to contribute to such know ledge. By combining political, historical, social and military research materials, the objective of this thesis is to chart the interface of the theory-policy-strategy-structure nexus of the SADF during 1969-1989. Through investigating the South African White Papers on Defence and Armaments and various archival materials available in the Department of Defence Archives, it can be determined to what extent defence policy influenced the operational application of the South African Defence Force.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Konflikte in Suid-Afrika, soos in waarskynlik die meerderheid van ander gevalle, kan saamgevat word in die volgende aanhaling deur Heinz Guderian; “Daar is geen desperate situasies nie, slegs desperate mense".2 Die jare van Nasionale Party (NP) se bewind, was gekenmerk deur verskeie beproewinge, m aar die periode tussen 1948 en 1991 was ook gekenmerk deur verskeie innoverings in byna al le sektore van die land. Kontemporêre Suid- Afrikaanse geskiedenis is meer gesentreer op ʼn hervertolking van gebeure vanuit die oogpunt van diegene wat gely het onder die Nasionale Party se bewind, aangesien Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis besaai is met onregmatighede en ongelykhede. Subjektiewe hervertolking kan egter die positiewe ontwikkelinge wat plaasgevind het versluier. Dus is dit uiters belangrik dat historiese werke onbevooroordelend van uitgangs punt moet wees sodat historiese materiaal benut kan word om Suid-Afrikaanse geskie denis te ondersoek tot voordeel van ‘n ontwikkelende nasie. Die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag (SAW) was uiters aanpasbaar by die omgewings en organisasie struktuur waarin ditmoes funksioneer. Die organisasie het egter nie in afsondering gefunksioneer nie, maar is beïnvloed deur talle interne en eksterne faktore. Daar is talle akademiese en nie-akademiese geskrifte beskikbaar oor die SAW, alhoewel sommige van hierdie werke polities geor iënteer of gemotiveer kan wees of hoofsaaklik op die militêre aspekte van die SAW fokus. Hierdie tesis poog nie om sodanige skrywers te weerspreek nie, maar slegs om ‘n addisionele bydrae tot die betrokke literatuur te maak. Deur politieke, historiese, sosiale en militêre navorsingsmateriaal te kombineer, poog die tesis om die koppelvlak van die SADF se teorie-beleid-strategie-struktuur- verbinding tussen 1969 en 1989 te belig. Deur Suid-Afrikaanse Witskrifte oor Verdediging en Wapenvervaardiging, asook verskeie ander argivale bronne,wat in die Departement van Verdediging se argiewe beskikbaar is te ondersoek, kan daar bepaal word tot watter mate die verdedigingsbeleid oor die operasionele toepassing van die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag gehad het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123995
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