The Dilemma Relating to the Modernisation of the SANDF and Its External Role: From Defence Review 1989 to Defence Review 2015

  • Theo NeethlingEmail author


This chapter will revisit some of the main arguments presented (in the South African context) since the late 1990s in relation to the regional security demands placed on the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on the one hand, and the configuration of the force design imposed on the SANDF on the other. These issues are of great relevance to the South African Department of Defence’s (recent) official pronouncements and related defence thinking on the current and future external role of the SANDF, specifically with regard to peace missions and post-conflict reconstruction and development. In view of the above, this chapter will examine the dynamics of recent years—philosophical and practical—that gave rise to the policy “move” or “shift” from the 1998 defence review to the 2015 defence review. From this point of departure, this chapter will argue that the Department of Defence has now gained a clearer idea or perspective of what the future external role(s) of the SANDF should be. This chapter will further argue that there is a need for increased spending on the military in terms of the need to have a military that is appropriately equipped, resourced and multi-role trained, and in order to execute successful external operations across the spectrum of potential conflict. However, politicians, taxpayers and the public at large will have to be convinced of the need for increased spending on the SANDF. In this regard, it will finally be argued that the need for more spending on the SANDF poses a major challenge to defence functionaries—specifically given the current problem of low economic growth and dire socioeconomic needs in the South African context.


  1. Abrahams, Diane. 2001. Defence conversion in South Africa: A faded ideal? ISS Paper 51, July. Accessed May 24, 2016.
  2. Cilliers, Jakkie. 2006, October 31–November 1. The African strategic environment 2020: Challenges for the SA Army. Paper delivered at the SA Army Vision 2010, Seminar 21, at Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2014. The 2014 South African defence review: Rebuilding after years of abuse, neglect and decay. ISS Policy Brief 56 (June): 1–8.Google Scholar
  4. Crawford-Browne, Terry. 2003. ECAAR-South Africa continues legal action to block imports. Economists for peace and security. Accessed November 12, 2015.
  5. Department of Defence. 1998. South African defence review, as approved by Parliament, April. Pretoria: Ministry of Defence.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1999. Cabinet decision on strategic defence procurement. Bulletin 63/99: 1.Google Scholar
  7. Department of Defence and Military Veterans. 2012. South African defence review 2012; Defence, security, development: Draft document for public engagement: As at 12 April 2012. Pretoria: Author.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2015. South African defence review 2015. Pretoria: Author.Google Scholar
  9. Department of Foreign Affairs. 1999. White paper on South African participation in international peace missions.
  10. De Wet, Phillip. 2012. From bully boys to wimps: The decline of SA’s military. Mail & Guardian, May 4. Accessed November 22, 2016.
  11. Du Plessis, Anton. 2003. The military instrument in South African foreign policy. Strategic Review for Southern Africa XXV (2): 106–143.Google Scholar
  12. Engelbrecht, Leon. 2009. SA key to effective ASF. Defence Web, February 18. Accessed February 25, 2017.
  13. 2016. Military: Military budget. Accessed July 15, 2016.
  14. Harris, Geoff. 2001. The incompatibility of peacemaking and military power. South African Journal of International Affairs 8 (1): 41–52. Scholar
  15. Heinecken, Lindy. 2016. Reflections on insider-outsider experiences of military research in South Africa. In Researching the military, ed. Helena Carreiras, Celso Castro, and Sabina Frederick, 36–47. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heitman, Helmoed-Römer. 2008, September 16. Preparing for the right war: Focusing South Africa’s armoured corps. Paper delivered at the SA Armour Symposium, at Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
  17. Kruys, George. 2004. Some major factors influencing military efficiency in the South African National Defence Force. ISSUP Bulletin 4. Accessed May 23, 2017.
  18. Le Roux, Len. 1999. Defining defence requirements: Force design considerations for the South African National Defence Force. African Security Review 8 (5): 56–64. Scholar
  19. ———. 2006, October 31–November 1. Revision of the South African Defence Review and international trends in force design: Implications for the SA Army. Paper delivered at the SA Army Vision 2010, Seminar 21, at Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  20. Lekota, M. 2003. Address by the Minister of Defence, the Hon Mosioa Lekota, MP, on the occasion of the Defence Budget Vote, National Assembly, Cape Town, June 13. Accessed August 18, 2006.
  21. Makwetla, Thabang. 2009. Speech by the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Thabang Makwetla, during the Department of Defence Budget Vote, 26 June 2009, National Assembly, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  22. Maswanganyi, Ntsakisi. 2016. IMF cuts SA’s 2017 forecast due to jobless and economic uncertainty. Businesslive, October 4. Accessed March 5, 2017.
  23. Maynier, David. 2015. We need a revised defence review. Democratic Alliance, June 4. Accessed October 18, 2016.
  24. Mills, Greg. 2010. An option of difficulties? A 21st century South African defence review. Brenthurst Foundation Discussion Paper 7: 1–25.
  25. News24. 2013. SA Navy short of ships., August 22. Accessed December 5, 2016.
  26. ———. 2016. Unemployment rate: South Africa is a ticking time bomb, November 23. Accessed January 23, 2017.
  27. Nyanda, Siphiwe. 2003, February 27. The South African National Defence Force and peace missions in Africa. Paper presented at a conference under the auspices of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and the Centre for International Political Studies (CIPS) and the Pretoria Branch of the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), University of the Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  28. Schoeman, Maxi. 2013. Foreign policy and the military. In service of reconstruction and development? In Post-conflict and reconstruction and development in Africa: Concepts, role-players, policy and practice, ed. Theodor Neethling and Heidi Hudson, 191–208. Cape Town: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Scholtz, Leopold. 2010. Hul weermag ‘ontman’ mor Britte. Rapport Weekliks, October 24, xii.Google Scholar
  30. Southall, Roger. 2006. Introduction: South Africa, An Africa peacemaker? In South Africa’s role in conflict resolution and peacemaking in Africa, ed. Roger Southall, 1–26. Pretoria: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
  31. Sunday Times. 2010. Air Force boss slams poor state of affairs. Sunday Times, April 4.
  32. Sunday Tribune. 2009. SA military is unravelling. Sunday Tribune, August 3. Accessed January 7, 2017.
  33. Sylvester, Justin, and Annette Seegers. 2008. South Africa’s strategic arms package. Scientia Militaria 36 (1): 52–77. Scholar
  34. United Nations. 2012. Contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Accessed June 13, 2012.
  35. ———. 2017. Troop and police contributors. Accessed May 3, 2017.
  36. Walker, Timothy. 2015. Can project biro help Africa to overcome its maritime security challenges? ISS Today, May 4. Accessed January, 11 2016.
  37. Williams, Rocky. 1998. Against meta-narratives? The strengths and weaknesses of modernism within contemporary defence thinking. Strategic Review for Southern Africa XX (1): 1–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations