Defence White Paper and Defence Review: Department briefing

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Defence and Military Veterans

16 February 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

16 February 2005

Professor K Asmal (ANC)

Documents handed out:
White Paper on Defence, 1996 & Defence Review, 1998
White Paper and Defence Review
White Paper on Defence and Defence Review PowerPoint presentation

The Committee met to hear a presentation by the Department on the White Paper and Defence Review. Substantial information was provided detailing the current status of policy formulation, points of debate, international influence, the nature of peacekeeping operations and collective security responses. Numerous questions were raised including the distinction between traditional and new security concepts, the influence of United Nations policy, utilisation of resources and the function of military colleges.

Professor G Cawtra (University of Witwatersrand) provided background information on progress made regarding the White Paper and the challenges faced. Significant consensus had been achieved involving key stakeholders. A balance between human and national security was a priority with civil society groups promoting human security issues and government advocating national security requirements. A contextual analysis was necessary where social issues such as poverty and Aids were incorporated into security strategies. The Department was engaged in a process of strategic realignment where internal threats were considered. The White Paper considered human and material resources focusing on personnel issues, reserves, limited budgets and existing material. Envisaged roles such as peacekeeping were also of concern.

The Chairperson asked for further detail on the distinction between various peacekeeping operations including peace enforcement and rapid reaction.

Professor Cawtra responded that peacekeeping was applied in an ad hoc manner originating from the Cold War when United Nations personnel were used to keep warring parties apart to prevent further bloodshed.

The Chairperson stated that peacekeeping emanated from Chapter Six of the United Nations Charter and took place with the consent of the local sovereign power such as Cyprus during the 1970s and Lebanon in 1982. Peacekeeping forces were essentially inter-position forces that maintained separation between conflicting parties and guard border crossings, for example. Truce supervision forces such as at the Suez Canal during 1956 also formed part of the peacekeeping option. A problem arose where peacekeepers conducted military operations such as the ending of secession or remaining within a territory when asked to leave by the sovereign authority. Ambiguity around the purpose of peacekeeping would arise. Under Chapter 7, the Security Council could impose a solution after an act of aggression such as the invasion of Iraq. The danger with peacekeeping was that the status quo was maintained thereby freezing the problem.

Professor Cawtra acknowledged that peacekeeping required the consent of the parties involved and impartiality in implementation. Current practice revolved around a hybrid incorporating the mandate of Chapter 6 with elements of Chapter 7 which included the use of force and the concept of peace enforcement. Certain regional entities were in place to maintain peace such as ECOWAS but all operations should have the consent of the Security Council.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the difference between peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

Mr N Sendall (Department of Defence) stated that the issue revolved around the rules of engagement with Chapter 7 allowing for a more robust approach including the use of force in certain situations. Force could be utilised outside of self-defence such as when civilian populations were under threat.

The Chairperson asked whether the number of troops on the ground impacted on whether peacekeeping or peace-enforcement could be implemented. The latter allowed for more active involvement by personnel including combat where necessary. Peacekeeping forces needed absolute clarity on the rules of engagement to govern activity.

Professor Cawtra reminded Members that peacekeeping involved a whole range of activities which required distinct explanation.

Department briefing
Mr J Motumi (Chief of Policy and Planning) stated that the presentation was a continuation of last year’s initial discussion intended to add detail to the existing framework including recent input from public hearings.

Mr N Sendall (Policy and Planning) provided an overview of the whole process and detail on Report 1 which included Chapters 1-4. Required results were highlighted and possible outcomes including risk profiles. Chapters 1-4 had been completed while Chapters 5-7 were under research. Defence requirements and financial implications had to be considered jointly. Both reports would be placed before the Minister of Defence by April 2005.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the role of the Committee with regard to the drawing up of the reports. He asked whether input from Members would be incorporated into the final product.

Mr Motumi responded that the input of Members would be included.

The Chairperson asked when the document would be finalised.

Mr Sendall stated that the document would be presented to the media by the end of April and to the Minister of Defence.

Mr S Naidoo (Policy and Planning) provided detail on Chapter 1 focussing on the changed strategic environment and the emphasis on collective responses to security threats. New threats within the global context were highlighted and the presence of various regional defence pacts.

Mr P Rakate (Policy and Planning) discussed Chapter 2 dealing with issues of collective security and mutual response models. Security was a transnational concern requiring an interconnected response. Non-conventional threats demanded innovative solutions such as new actors and mutual pacts.

Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) asked whether the salient features of each Chapter could be elucidated emphasising new developments.

Mr S Naidoo provided an account of Chapter 3 detailing South Africa’s approach to national security involving a synthesis of traditional and new-age security concerns. Constitutional principles pertaining to security were dealt with including political, economic, social and environmental issues. Non-military threats received attention such as crime and regional instability and concordant implications for the Department.

Col W Wagner (Corporate Staff) presented an overview of Chapter 4 highlighting the roles, functions, objectives and missions envisaged for the Department of Defence. Primary and secondary functions required reassessment in terms of the overall defence strategy. New missions had to be included in defence objectives such as disaster relief.

The Chairperson asked to what extent the chapters concurred with the initial theme expressed by the quote attributed to the United Nations. He asked what impact UN policy had on proposed local security considerations.

Mr Sendall responded that the reference to the UN was included to emphasise the mindset shift towards human security concerns that governed policy formulation. Soft threats such as poverty had to be included as well as new threats including small arms proliferation and child soldiering.

Mr O Monareng (ANC) stated that Departmental formulations should not flow solely from UN policy statements but the focus should remain with the local context including specific regional requirements.

Adv H Schmidt (DA) remarked that a distinction should remain between traditional security issues and soft threats such as poverty in terms of national security policy. Poverty was not specifically a military threat.

The Chairperson stated that social instability could give rise to threats of violence as the poor and powerless could initiate civil war. Attention should not remain fixed on military threats such as invasion or weapons of mass destruction. Poverty in certain regions was not a soft threat and had to be considered. Aspects of Chapter 1 needed re-evaluation as African conflict did not only require an African response. The rise of unilateralism within the UN was a cause for concern.

Mr Sayedali-Shah stated that the document did not address financial implications arising out of policy recommendations.

The Chairperson replied that financial issues appeared in the second part of the document.

Adv Schmidt asked whether unilateral action on the part of the state could still occur where necessary.

The Chairperson responded that no state surrendered its authority to intervene in security actions to a multi-lateral organisation. States had to maintain the right to intervene where necessary in the interests of national security. The primary role of armed forces remained and a distinction should remain between development officers and military personnel. The concepts of peacekeeping required additional training within normal military training courses. Increased activity by soldiers in community actions was a challenge to established practices. Security had to be viewed in a national sense and could not become multi-lateral in totality. The UN was not mentioned within Chapter 3 which was a shortcoming as South Africa remained an important member of the UN and UN policy would be reflected in South Africa’s security policy.

Adv Schmidt noted that Chapter 3 lacked detail on how South Africa would interact with regional groupings and whether entities such as the European Union could be approached for assistance.

Col Wagner provided detail on Chapter 5 that discussed defence capabilities and the process to be followed. The force design and force structure were being formulated with various options.

Mr J Grundling (Chief Financial Officer) provided an overview of Chapter 6 that involved required defence resources incorporating the Parys resolutions. The Chapter focused on the capabilities that ought to be in place and the identification of unmanageable risks. The envisaged force could be reduced in size and under-funded but retain manageable risks. New financial implications were under consideration relative to the envisaged design structure. The intention was to remove unmanageable risks.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department had conducted an audit of all non-military material as the Cabinet would require such information.

Mr Visser (Policy and Planning) presented an overview of Chapter 7 detailing defence governance that sought to ensure civil oversight over defence. Various structures were in place to achieve this including Councils of Defence, Defence Staff Councils and subordinate structures.

The Chairperson asked whether the Defence Staff Council contained a civilian and military component.

Mr Visser responded that a clerical component existed chaired by the Secretary for Defence and a separate military council chaired by a Chief of Staff. Representatives of both bodies sat on the Defence Staff Council that provided advice to the Cabinet.

The Chairperson asked what type of issues arose from the civilian component and from the military component and how issues were synthesised.

Mr Visser replied that the Secretary was the primary adviser to the Minister on policy matters. The Chief was the primary advisor on military matters and remained in command of the defence capabilities.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked for further detail on the utilisation of resources and how the review would be conducted. He asked whether the SANDF made use of open information technology networks and the status of reserve forces.

Mr Grundling replied that information networks were safeguarded although certain weaknesses had been identified and would be rectified. The procurement of resources was governed by the relevant Act.

Mr Sendall replied that planning around mission requirements focused on full-time and reserve capabilities.

The Chairperson asked for detail on the distinction between the War College and the Defence College and the role of the entity at Saldanha. The impression following a recent visit to Saldanha was that the institution was poorly managed and under-resourced. A process of rehabilitation was recommended involving the Departments of Education and Defence. The institution should attract students from the African continent. He asked whether Saldanha possessed an academic slant as opposed to the more conventional military colleges.

Mr Motumi replied that Saldanha produced professional qualifications without strict adherence to military needs.

Mr Visser stated that the War College served a more functional and operational purpose.

The Chairperson stated that a further request for information would be forwarded to the Saldanha Board to assist the Committee in investigating the academy’s operations and producing a sound report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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