Defence Review 2012 consultative document: overview by Defence Review Committee


10 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr J Maake (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence received a briefing from the Defence Review Committee on its Defence Review 2012 consultative document. The overview covered the aim of the review, the mandate and members of the Defence Review Committee, overarching defence principles and key deliverables, the fundamental shift from the 1998 to the 2012 Defence Review, its thematic areas and chapters to provide insight into the content and nature of the document.

In the discussion that followed, Members asked questions about the operation, position and privatisation of Denel; the effectiveness of the imbizos and other outreach programmes; availability of the Defence Review Committee to joining Members in outreach programmes about the 2012 Defence Review; the ratio of reserve to regular defence force employees and the number of uneconomical employees within the defence force; and the deployment of defence force for civil control.

Meeting report

Defence Review 2012 Consultative Document: strategic overview
The presentation by the Defence Review Committee (DRC) was introduced by Mr Roelf Meyer, Chairperson of the Defence Review Committee. Mr Tefo Keketsi, Resource Group Member and Defence Analyst at Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) provided the strategic overview of the Defence Review consultative document. They were accompanied by Nick Sendall, Resource Member of Defence Review Committee, Godfrey Ramuhala, Defence Review secretariat, Capt Jaco Theunissen, Defence Review Committee communication officer.

The Defence Review 2012 was designed to provide a defence policy that was supportive of the government's priorities and strategic intent and a reviewed defence mandate with associated defence functions, high-level tasks, strategic concepts, doctrine, capabilities, level of effort and structure. This function was to be complemented by a sound policy for determining the blueprint of the Defence Force design and structure, as well as the future defence fiscal and resource framework. Amongst many other tasks, the Minister of Defence required the Defence Review to address key concerns such as the primary objective of the National Defence Force arising from constitutional imperatives and the defence statutory framework as well as the defence contribution to South Africa’s developmental priorities; the strategic security environment, trends and predictions, and emerging sources of insecurity and the defence contribution to national security and an expression of South Africa's national interests. In carrying out these tasks, the Defence Review had to pay particular attention to South Africa’s strategic purpose. This was the strategic role that South Africa had to play on the continent, and in the Southern African region in particular, and an understanding of the continent’s expectations of South Africa.

Mr Keketsi said that the Defence Review reflected on the following critical questions:
▪ What did the Southern African region and the African continent expect of South Africa?
▪ What was the nature of the Defence Force that South Africans wanted?
▪ What could Government's defence commitment be?
▪ What could South Africa's future defence posture be?
What state of readiness and capabilities and force levels, were required to meet present and future defence commitments?
What was to be the high-level defence doctrine and on what was it to be based?
What was the ideal relative size of Regulars and Reserves in the Defence Force?
What was the required Defence Force culture?
What was the nature of the Defence Industry which was required to support the future Defence Force?

The entire review process which started in July 2011 with the diagnostic and orientation process was estimated to be over in September 2012 with the formal approval of the review. The entire review process consisted of eight phases: diagnostic and orientation process; definition of thematic areas and determination of the document architecture; drafting process; document review and refinement; public release of the document; public engagement; preparation of the final document; and the formal approval process.

The Defence Review did not limit itself to high-level policy and strategy matters. It also addressed and focused its attention on matters of defence doctrine, defence capabilities, defence structural arrangements, and accounting for resources provided. In the short-term, it served to provide a robust platform for the Minister to argue the defence case.

Mr Keketsi outlined the overarching defence principles enshrined in the Defence Review:
▪ The defence force was to strive to be seen as a representative and trusted non-partisan national asset. This meant that the defence force was to be respected by the people of South Africa and the international community for the standard of military professionalism it cultivated and maintained.
▪ The defence force was to adhere to sound civil control and robust legislative oversight. The defence force was to be fully compliant with national and international law, and specifically International Humanitarian Law, statute, national policy and regulatory frameworks. Due recognition was to be given to the unique nature of the defence force vis-a-vis the public service.
▪ The defence force was to strategically adopt a defensive posture but maintain offensive operational capabilities. The defence mandate, mission, goals and tasks were to be focused on the attainment of national strategic effects. The resource allocations to the defence force were therefore to be quantified to ensure that the appropriate combat readiness, mission levels and contingencies were sustained.
▪ The defence force was to be maintained as a balanced modern, flexible, technologically advanced force supported by a singular overarching information technology infrastructure. The defence force was to be appropriately equipped to execute successful operations across the spectrum of conflict. The defence force was to be multi-role trained with all capabilities embedded with firepower, protection, manoeuvre, sustainment and intelligence.
▪ The leadership and professionalism were to be the cornerstone of strategic, operational and tactical success. Defence force members were to be skilled, healthy, fit, and highly disciplined professionals imbued with a high level of morale and sense of duty. Similarly, they were to be led by exemplary, competent, ethical and dynamic leaders. Mission Command was said to be the leadership philosophy.
▪ The defence force was to be organised into combat formations and there were to be clear distinctions between command and staff functions. Command lines were to be clear and unambiguous. Commanders were going have the required delegations and be held accountable and responsible for commensurate authority over all resources allocated for the execution of their assigned mandates.
▪ The defence force, as an important pillar of the South African state, was to contribute to national development primarily by creating the security conditions necessary for development to take place, and secondly through specific interventions as may be required from time-to-time to meet national priorities. The defence force was to be the provider of last resort during times of national disaster, national emergency or civil turbulence.

In explaining the fundamental shift from the 1998 Defence Review to the 2012 Review, Mr Keketsi noted the key features of the 1998 Defence Review. The 1998 Defence Review was preoccupied with the integration of both statutory and non-statutory armed force after the negotiated transition in 1994. It addressed matters of transformation and the normalisation of security relations in the Southern African region. It attempted to provide the first policy foundations for a “Defence in a Democracy”. It further took a very conservative approach to the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in pursuit of regional security, envisaging that South Africa would contribute a single battalion to peace keeping operations. However, within a short number of years South Africa’s commitment had grown substantially beyond this level. The fundamental shift in the 2012 Defence Review was that the Defence Review 2012 moved significantly beyond the narrow and internal focus of the 1998 Defence Review. It unpacked the constitutional mandate, other statute and South Africa’s international obligations and set out the work that government expected the SANDF to do.

The departure point of the Defence Review 2012 was that the defence force existed to fulfill a very important role in society and the 2012 Defence Review unpacked what that role is. It illustrated five strategic goals for defence and fifteen high-level defence tasks. It was noted that the Defence Review did not express itself on the Defence Force Design or the Defence Force Structure. The Chief of the Defence Force was to develop a Blueprint Force Design and Force Structure in a subsequent process.

On the thematic areas of the review, Mr Keketsi took the Committee through summaries of the various chapters of the document.

Chapter One focused on the mandate given to the Defence Review Committee, the requirement for a new Defence Review and the role of Defence Policy in the national policy framework and the fundamental principles underpinning the Defence Review 2012.

Chapter Two provided an understanding of the South African state, its people, its political, economic and legal systems and geography. This chapter outlined the unique challenges facing South Africa as a democratic developmental state such as poverty, income inequality, unemployment, education and criminality. The chapter examined the role that defence can play in the development of the state.

Chapter Three discussed an understanding of the global, continental, regional and domestic security environments and some of the implications thereof for South Africa. It also articulated the future strategic environment, vis-a-vis the ‘African Battle Space’. It gave some conclusions for defence in relation to the security environment.

Chapter Four unpacked the contemporary defence expenditure at the global, African and sub-regional levels. It gave an analysis of South African defence spending over a fifty-year period. The implications were indicated in terms of defence capabilities, defence readiness, personnel, operating and capital allocations. Conclusions are given in relation to defence budgeting.

Chapter Five focused on the emergent national security strategy which was expressed as a construct and the national interests of South Africa were given. The South African National Security Construct was articulated and the specific defence contribution thereto was expressed, especially in terms of; the determination of national interests, the determination of the national security ambition. This culminated in five strategic national security effects which must be pursued by all forms of national power in South Africa.

In Chapter Six, the defence mandate emanating from the Constitution and other statute were identified and cascaded into a defence mission, five strategic goals and 15 high-level defence tasks. Each task was expressed in terms of its defence effect. This was a paradigm shift from a threat-based approach to defence policy and strategy to an approach which was based on desired defence effects. The five strategic goals included: the defence and protection of South Africa, its people and important national interests; the safeguarding of South Africa and its people through aspects such as border safeguarding, supporting the Police Service and fulfilling South Africa’s treaty obligations; the defence contribution to South Africa’s international agenda and the promotion of regional and continental peace and stability; supporting civil authority in times of crisis, need or turmoil, and the defence contribution to South Africa’s developmental priorities; and the civil control over defence and the accountable utilisation of defence resources.

Chapter Seven illustrated the future spectrum of conflict and the future conflict geographies identified. These included the landward sphere, maritime sphere, aeronautic sphere, space sphere and information sphere. A range of future defence contingencies were identified and these included inter-state contingencies and intra-state contingencies. The chapter also focused on the determination of key defence concepts and the identification of key defence capability sets.

In Chapter Eight, the Defence Review in adopting an effects-based approach postulated for South Africa’s “scale of defence effort”. The defence mandate, mission, strategic goals and tasks were systematically unpacked to determine the scale of defence effort required for each and the concomitant defence capability requirements. This scale of effort was to remain the fundamental basis for the development of the force design. Many countries described the scale of defence effort as the “level of defence ambition”.

Chapter Nine focused on the positing of the level of effort required for South Africa to meet these strategic goals and high-level tasks and identifying the core defence capabilities required. This allowed for comprehensive guidelines to be posited for the defence force design. The chapter also focused on high-level force design requirements for the SA Army, SA Air Force, SA Navy, SA Military Health Service and the SA Special Forces. The chapter outlined the requirement for a blueprint force design and force structure to be developed by the Chief of the Defence Force.

In Chapter Ten, the future defence organisation was posited, ranging from the key tenets for the Ministry of Defence and the repositioning of the Defence Secretariat to that of the organisation of the Defence Force. This chapter also focused on the pronouncement on Civil Control and the Defence Organisation, with particular emphasis on the President as ‘Commander-in-Chief’, civil control, parliamentary oversight and a specific proposal on defence oversight, the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Head Quarter, specific “Defence Accountability Arrangements”, the introduction of a uniform command and staff system, and the realignment of the SANDF into combat formations. Of importance was the establishment of a comprehensive Defence Service Commission and a Defence Ombud which was proposed to provide comprehensively for defence personnel outside of the general Public Service. This chapter also proposed the establishment of a Defence Materiel Organisation, an Independent Tender Board, a Defence Estates Agency, a Defence Heritage Agency and a revised Reserve Force Council. This chapter also focused on bringing Denel closer to the Defence Force.

In Chapter Eleven, a number of important and key interventions were posited, based on the observations of the Defence Review Committee during its diagnostic and orientation process. These interventions included; an integrated defence information system; defence service commission; defence ombud; military leadership; the reserve component; defence training; defence discipline; defence organisational structuring; defence organisational performance; and the health of the force.

Chapter Twelve focused on the high-level strategies for defence resources such as; combat service support doctrine; defence personnel management; defence logistics management; defence information management; defence financial management; defence facilities footprint; and defence environmental management.

Chapter Thirteen provided the fundamentals of the future defence and procurement strategies. It identified the focus areas and strategic and niche areas and discussed the future positioning of the defence industry.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) said the presentation outlined that the review intended to bring Denel closer to the defence force. She asked where Denel was, why was it not in its rightful place all along and what measures were going to be used to bring it to its rightful position.

Mr Roelf Meyer replied that the division between Denel and Armscor was made way back in 1991, prior to the democratic transition and it was based on the fact that Armscor was an acquisition arm which Denel was a production arm for the production of military equipment. The functions of Denel were subsequently put under the authority of the Minister of Public Enterprises simply because it was a State Owned Enterprise. It had come to the attention of the Defence Review Committee that Denel being generally considered as “any other SOE” was not in the best interest of Denel or the industry. Denel did not receive the attention and focus it deserved because the department under which it was, did not focus on defence matters. Denel was therefore a better-fit in terms of its operations if the Minister of Defence took responsibility for it as the government stakeholder. It was basically about who was to be responsible for it at an executive level and the Defence Review Committee was of the opinion that the Minister of Defence should be given the responsibility. The Defence Review Committee had presented these views to Denel and they still had to give their feedback on this aspect. 

Ms M Dikgale (ANC) asked what the general response was to the imbizos called by the Review Committee.

Mr Tefo Keketsi replied that the Defence Review Committee communicated with the local municipalities responsible to make sure that people were mobilised. The imbizos were advertised through the local radio stations and newsletters and pamphlets were being distributed within the municipalities and the entire region was invited to the imbizos. Transport was also organised to collect participants. It was a difficult task to reach out to everyone in the region but maximum effort was being put in.

Mr D Maynier (DA) said he was interested to know the process that the Joint Standing Committee members would follow in dealing with the Defence Review. He said that he had a clear proposal on how the Committee could comprehensively deal with the Defence Review given the limited time. The Defence Review Committee was mandated to deal with the regular and reserve force yet the document did not refer to that point. He asked the Defence Review Committee to give specific numbers with regard to the regular and reserve forces and also the total number of uneconomical staff within the SANDF which they recommend should be exited from the system, using an exit mechanism. The committee needed more detail to approve the document. He also asked what the proposal of the Defence Review Committee in terms of civil control was. What was the analysis of the problem with civil control in Parliament and on what data was this analysis based?

Rear Admiral Phillip Scholtz replied that the Review Committee worked on the basis of information provided to it. On the issue of the regulars and reserves, Chapter Four showed the ratio of the regulars and reserves. There had been close to 300 000 people in the reserves but that number had gone down to about 16 000 people and the number of regulars had grown. There had been a decrease in reserves and an increase in the regulars. During peace times, a ratio of approximately 45:55 was recommended. On how many people should be in the defence force was a function of the national force design. It was difficult to give a specific figure but it was in the region of about 80 000 people. On the number of uneconomical forces, the review did not go into a head count on how many people were uneconomical but there was an initiative to introduce the military skills development programme. The number of uneconomical people in the force was in the region of about 10 000 people. However, this number would greatly reduce once the proposals of the document were considered and applied.

Mr J Maake (ANC) asked what the formal approval process of the Defence Review strategy entailed.

Ms Mafolo asked if the Defence Review Committee was doing any outreach programmes. If Members of Parliament devised any outreach programmes, could the Defence Review Committee be available to speak to the public and communities.

Mr Meyer replied that the Defence Review Committee was available to do outreach programmes together with the Members. He said it was a great idea and the Defence Review Committee was willing to welcome such opportunities.

Mr Maynier proposed that the Committee have specific briefings and hearings with regard to the issue of civil control. There was a constitutional obligation on the President to inform Parliament about the employment of the defence force. So if the defence force were employing, for example, special force soldiers on cover missions, there was a problem. The Defence Review Committee was right to raise the problem and the Committee had to work on solving the problem. The fundamental cause of the problem was the uncertainty and disagreement about when it was legitimate for the Department of Defence to withhold or not disclose information.

Mr Meyer replied that the Defence Review Committee was not in a position to explain the process of how the legislature or the executive were to carry out a process on the adoption of the Defence Review. It was entirely up to the legislature and executive. All that the Defence Review Committee had to do was to submit the document to Parliament.

Mr Maynier also asked if the Defence Review Committee had considered privatising Denel or making proposals in this regard. If these proposals were not made, what was the reason for not making them and what was the argument against privatising Denel?

Mr Meyer replied that the proposal on civil control was a good idea but it was for the Committee to decide. It was good to build consensus around the Defence Review so that the final document could be informed by maximum consensus. The ultimate goal was to establish what was in the best interest of the country and its people. The privatisation of Denel had not been completely excluded but the fundamental concept was that the parts of the defence industry that were commercial in nature could be privatised but those that were strategic needed to be held by the state.

Mr Maake said that Mr Maynier had the tendency of taking the Committee off track. The issue about Denel was the question of whether to shift it from Public Enterprises to Defence – and not all the other social issues which Mr Maynier was raising. That was a time wasting exercise. On the confidentiality of Special Forces, it was not the Committee to decide what was confidential or not.

The meeting was adjourned.


Defence Review Committee as announced by Minister of Defence on 1 September 2011
Mr Roelf Meyer, defence minister for nine months in 1991 and 1992 before becoming the NP government’s chief negotiator with the African National Congress (ANC) and more recently an Armscor board member, the DRC includes one more former defence minister – Charles Nqakula, now President Jacob Zuma’s special envoy to Sudan. Nqakula, police minister from 2002 to 2008 was briefly defence minister from September that year to May the next year. Also aboard are two former chairs of the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD), two ambassadors, two retired soldiers and two representatives of military veterans.

The ex-JSCD chairs are current ANC deputy secretary general Thandi Modise and ANC National Executive Committee member Tony Yengeni. Modise, now also North West Province premier, was for several years a formidable chair of the Portfolio Committee on Defence. Yengeni is also a former ANC chief whip and noted uMkhonto we Sizwe commander. He chaired the JSCD during the last defence policy review process.

The other members are Dr Moses Khanyile, Dr Phandelani Motoma, a Dr Gulube, Ms Nonkonzo Molai, SA’s Ambassador to Italy, Thenjiwe Mtintso, and veteran Godfrey Giles.

They are supported by a four-man secretariat comprising Nick Sendall, chief director of defence policy in the Defence Secretariat as well as author Helmoed-Römer Heitman, the SA Navy’s Flag Officer Fleet Rear Admiral Philip Schöultz, until recently chief director of operations for the South African National Defence Force at the Joint Operations Division and Colonel G Seape. Sisulu said they represented an extremely knowledgeable cadre.


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