Foreign Deployment of SANDF: briefing by Department

Defence

18 March 2003
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Meeting report

030319jcdefence

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE
19 March 2003
FOREIGN DEPLOYMENT OF SANDF: BRIEFING

Acting Chairperson:
Mr Diale (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Powerpoint presentation on Foreign Deployment

SUMMARY
The Department of Defence briefed the Committee on the deployment of the South African National Defence Force in foreign countries. The focus was on the three current operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Burundi. Future deployment in the Comores and the future of deployment in Burundi and the DRC was addressed. The Department also briefed the Committee on challenges facing these missions, particularly sustaining those missions.

MINUTES
Major-General J F Lusse, Chief Director Operations, briefed the Committee on the details of the current operations. Namely, Operation Mistral (in DRC and Uganda), Operation Espresso (Ethiopia and Eritrea) and Operation Fibre (Burundi).

He pointed out that the first two were in joint co-operation with the UN and the AU while the third one was solely the SANDF involvement as it was playing a mediation role in the peace process in Burundi.

With respect to future operations, the SANDF planned to be involved in demobilisation and disarmament in the DRC. There were certain aspects of this operation which could not be discussed as it was still in the planning process and was of a sensitive nature. The operation in the Comores was to assist in the parliamentary elections in that country. Dates for this had not yet been given. He pointed out that the biggest challenge faced was sustaining those forces in these foreign countries especially if it was long term.

Discussion
Mr A Blaas (NNP) referred to Monuc III, which is part of Operation Mistral, and asked what the value was of the military hardware that was being used there.

General Lusse said that he had no figures available. The UN agreements stated what was used and reimbursement to the South African government was given according to these agreements. The SANDF was limited in what it could transport. Facilities in the DRC were such that only a certain size aircraft could be used.

The Chairperson referred to the fact that it took six weeks to prepare a unit to be deployed and wanted more information on this as it had also been mentioned that troops had to be made "combat ready".

General Lusse said that troops were constantly in a state of readiness. The time taken to deploy a unit was the time to work out all the finer details before the unit could be sent.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) wanted clarity on groups who were in the Burundian government. He also wanted to know who the ruling party was.

General Lusse explained that there were seven Hutu parties and ten Tutsi parties. They were all part of the Transitional Government. The strongest party was the party of the President, which was a Tutsi party.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know if there was still a need for the Rooivalk helicopter. He also wanted to know about the state of readiness of troops and the quality of service which they could render.

General Lusse explained that the Rooivalk was an air - antitank piece of equipment. There were still developments with respect to the electronics and the missiles which would be fitted to it. He said that the troops were in a state if readiness and that they had contingency plans. If they had an early warning, they could be deployed in a short time.

The Committee then took a decision to support the foreign deployments of the SANDF.

The meeting was adjourned.

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